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Court consolidates DPP cases

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Wapona Kika

As the battle for the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament rages between Mulanje Central Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Kondwani Nankhumwa and George Chaponda of Mulanje South-West Constituency, the High Court has consolidated two cases that commenced in Blantyre and Lilongwe on the matter.

Wapona Kita, who is lawyer for the 22 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MPs who are challenging Chaponda’s appointment, confirmed the development in an interview Thursday, after appearing before Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda, who granted them an interlocutory injunction.

Last week, High Court Judge Mandala Mambulasa, who was sitting in Blantyre, granted Nankhumwa an order to join the matter and further granted a consolidation order before referring the file to Lilongwe.

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Mambulasa said there was no need to have separate court processes emanating from the same developments in the DPP.

Nyirenda has since adjourned the matter to July 18 2022.

“We now have three parties to the case and there were some housekeeping issues that needed to be taken care of with regards to filing and service of documents,” Kitta said.

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Nankhumwa’s lawyer Cassius Chidothe said separately that the situation surrounding the transfer of the Blantyre file and the consolidation order compelled the court to adjourn the matter.

Chaponda’s lawyer Chimwemwe Sikwese, however, said they were ready with their case, in which they are asking the court to discharge the injunction which was granted to the MPs, arguing it is based on perjury and suppression of material facts.

In defence documents we have seen, Sikwese and the team contend that some of the claimants, including Nankhumwa’s spouse Gertrude, were elected as independent MPs and have no right to complain about what is happening in the DPP and its decision on Leader of Opposition.

“I verily believe that that the order of interlocutory injunction granted to the claimants has no legal basis as the said order was granted upon the claimants’ reliance on criminality in form of perjury and also by suppressing material facts to mislead the court,” Sikwese’s defence reads.

On June 26 2022, a caucus of DPP President Peter Mutharika and 29 DPP lawmakers appointed Chaponda as Leader of Opposition in Parliament, replacing Nankhumwa, who was not invited to the meeting.

This is the second time DPP has attempted to remove Nankhumwa from the position, after a similar move was foiled in October 2020, when Mutharika appointed to the position the then MP for Nsanje Central Constituency Francis Kasaila.

Nankhumwa assumed the position soon after DPP was ousted from power on June 23 2020.

Political analyst Ernest Thindwa has since warned that legal battles and DPP infighting have the potential to weaken the party.

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