THE Supreme Court yesterday convicted MMD leader Nevers Mumba of the contempt charge but he was set free.
Supreme Court judge Mervin Mwanamwambwa, who delivered judgment on behalf of four other judges, said despite Mumba being convicted upon admission of his own guilt, the court was setting him free because he had withdrawn his contemptuous statement and apologised to the court.
This is in a matter in which Mumba was facing a contempt charge relating to his assault on the integrity of the Judiciary following the Supreme Court’s decision to nullify Petauke Central Member of Parliament (MP) Dora Siliya’s parliamentary seat.
Mumba had accused the Judiciary, particularly acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda, of being in her position to serve the interests of the Patriotic Front (PF) at the expense of the opposition.
Losing Petauke Central PF candidate in the 2011 elections, Leonard Banda had moved the motion to have Mumba cited for contempt of court.
Mumba initially asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the contempt motion against him claiming it was not properly moved but the court dismissed his application.
He later, in response to the contempt motion, filed a statement to which he admitted to the charge.
He withdrew his contemptuous remarks and further apologised to the court.
He, however, said the court had taken into consideration Mumba’s strong mitigation by his lawyer Irene Kunda and other issues which caused him to issue the contemptuous statements.
He said before Mumba issued the statement, PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba had on August 1, 2013 written a letter to the party’s advocate Bonaventure Mutale over possible disqualification of persons involved in electoral corruption, and Solicitor General Musa Mwenye gave a legal opinion on the same.
Mr Justice Mwanamwambwa said the letter and legal opinion were copied to the acting Chief Justice which influenced the issuing of a Press statement and report to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to bar the losing candidates for Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi constituencies from re-contesting their seats.
He said there were further statements and litigations that were made in relation to the nullifications of the seats and whether or not candidates whose seats were nullified could re-contest.
Mr Justice Mwanamwambwa said the court was uncomfortable and worried that Mr Kabimba’s letter and Mr Mwenye’s legal opinion were copied to the acting Chief Justice because there were already intended moves to file the motions to whether or not candidates whose seats had been nullified by the Supreme Court could re-contest.
He said it was such moves that gave the perception that the court was siding with a party to the dispute and it was that kind of perception that caused the contemnor to make the contemptuous statements, for which he was charged.