Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) estranged vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa and two others have taken the former governing party to court for contempt after failing to reinstate them as earlier ruled by the court.
Nankhumwa, secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey, treasurer general Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda accuse DPP of ignoring a court order that they be reinstated into their respective positions after obtaining an injunction blocking their suspensions on October 3 2020.
The four were suspended from their respective positions and the party on October 2 last year for alleged misconduct, largely as they pushed Nankhumwa to remain Leader of Opposition in Parliament against the wishes of party leader Peter Mutharika, who wanted former Nsanje Central legislator Francis Kasaila to assume the position.
In Civil Cause Number 898 of 2020, the claimants argue that DPP’s administrative secretary Francis Mphepo, organising secretary Chimwemwe Chipungu, spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira and Samuel Tembenu illegally sit in the party’s Central Committee.
The case will be heard in Lilongwe by High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda on March 24 2021.
Reads the summons: “Let all parties attend before honourable Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda in open court on the 24th day of March 2021 at 9 o’clock in the forenoon or soon thereafter on the hearing of an application by the claimants, for the defendant’s administrative and national organising secretaries honourable Francis Mphepo and Chimwemwe Chipungu, respectively.
“Mr. Samuel Tembenu and Mr. Brown James Mpinganjira to be dealt with for contempt of court on the ground that three individuals who sit in defendant’s Central Committee, contrary to the interlocutory order of injunction dated 3rd of October 2020, have not reinstated the first, second and third claimants to their respective positions as vice-president [South], secretary general and treasurer general.”
In his sworn statement, Nankhumwa argues that Chipungu, Mpinganjira, Mphepo and Tembenu sit in DPP’s Central Committee to make crucial decisions when legally they are not supposed to sit in that group.
He cites decisions such as the removal of regional director of women (Centre) Mariam Chimbalanga, regional director for youths (Centre) Rajab Malimba as well as appointments of people such as Zeria Chakale as vice-president (Centre).
Nankhumwa argues: “Despite due service as aforesaid, contrary to the dictates of the said order and in outright contempt of court, the defendant has not reinstated me to my party position as vice-president [South]. I have to date not been engaged by the defendant to perform my duties as vice-president [South].
“Since the date of service of the said order of injunction, the defendant’s Central Committee has severally convened and transacted crucial business without inviting and/or calling me and second and third claimants who are the secretary general and treasurer general, respectively.”
In an interview at the weekend, Chipungu said he was yet to be served with the summons. He also indicated that Mpinganjira was the best person to respond on the matter.
But Mpinganjira could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Last week, Nankhumwa also sued some party officials for defamation. There is also already another case in court in which Nankhumwa and others sued the party over their firing.
The cracks in DPP came to light after Jeffrey last August told The Nation that Mutharika had done his part and that the party was working to replace him with a new person to lead it into the future.
However, the sentiments did not go down well with Mutharika who asked Jeffrey to apologise. Even after the two met to mend fences, nothing changed as the tension continued.
Later, DPP fired Nankhumwa alongside Jeffrey, Mhango and Nthenda for allegedly influencing the rejection of Mutharika’s appointee as Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
After their expulsion on October 2 2020, the four sought an injunction the following day through lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa. It was granted in Lilongwe by High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda, where the case is still being handled.
Mutharika lost the court-ordered June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election to the nine-party Tonse Alliance led by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera who partnered Mutharika’s then estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima of UTM Party.