By MAYA NTANDA –
THE Kitwe High Court has granted United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema an order of stay of execution of the bench warrant.
High Court Judge-in-Charge Catherine Makungu granted the order of execution of the bench warrant after lawyers representing Mr Hichilema, Milner Katolo and Associates, made the application yesterday.
On Monday, Ms Justice Makungu had issued a bench warrant against Mr Hichilema for absconding from court proceedings in the case in which acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda applied to commit Mr Hichilema to prison for alleged contempt of court.
Mr Hichilema had allegedly commented on an issue that was still active in court when he was quoted as having referred to Ms Justice Chibesakunda’s position as acting Chief Justice.
The opposition leader was included as an alleged contemnor in the case in which the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has sued the Attorney General and Ms Justice Chibesakunda over her re-appointment as Supreme Court Judge.
After the bench warrant was issued, Mr Hichilema applied for a stay of execution of the bench warrant, saying that he had not received the summons from lawyers representing Ms Justice Chibesakunda.
In granting the order of stay of execution, Ms Justice Makungu allowed the order pending hearing of the application to set aside the bench warrant.
“The order of stay of execution of the bench warrant is hereby granted pending hearing of an application to set aside the bench warrant,” read the order in part.
Earlier, Ms Justice Makungu rejected the application on grounds that it was defective because it contained extraneous matters and was contrary to order 5, rule 15 of the High Court rules.
She said she read the application to set aside the bench warrant and an affidavit in support sworn by Mr Hichilema filed on Tuesday.
Ms Justice Makungu stated that since the bench warrant was issued in an open court, with all advocates concerned present, it was in the interest of justice that all other parties be heard as regards the application to set it aside.
She further noted that it was regrettable that lawyers, Muleza Mwiimbu and Company, who were among those representing LAZ decided to represent the alleged contemnor.
Ms Justice Makungu advised that Muleza Mwiimbu and Company stop representing Mr Hichilema because there was a serious conflict of interest which must be avoided.
The matter comes up on August 25.