ConCourt throws out LAZ’s application to jail Tutwa for contempt

THE Constitutional Court has declined to commit Lusaka lawyer Tutwa Ngulube to prison for contempt of court for issuing statements against a petition by LAZ where it sued President Edgar Lungu, the Attorney General and National Assembly regarding the Constitution Amendment Bill No.10 of 2019.

The Court has granted Ngulube, who is also Kabwe Central PF member of parliament, an application in which he asked it to dismiss, for irregularity, the Law Association of Zambia’s notice of motion for an order of his committal to prison for alleged contempt.

It has consequently dismissed LAZ’s notice of motion with costs to Ngulube.

On August 23, last year, LAZ filed a notice of motion seeking an order that Ngulube should be committed to prison for contempt of court for having issued various statements touching on its petition where it had cited President Lungu, the Attorney General and National Assembly over their decision to remodel the Constitution of Zambia through Amendment Bill No.10 of 2019.

LAZ further wanted an order restraining Ngulube from making any further publications on the matter.

But on September 13, 2019, Ngulube filed summons to set aside and or dismiss LAZ’s notice of motion for irregularity.

However, in an affidavit in opposition to Ngulube’s summons to set aside and or dismiss the notice of motion for irregularities, LAZ president Eddie Mwitwa argued that Ngulube’s application to set aside LAZ’s notice of motion for irregularity was without merit and should be dismissed with costs.

He stated that he believed Ngulube was the right party to be cited for the contempt proceedings before court and added that LAZ’s notice of motion gave sufficient details of Ngulube’s contemptuous acts.

Mwitwa disagreed with Ngulube’s argument that he was not a party to the proceedings under which he had been cited for contempt.

But in a ruling delivered by Constitutional Court Judge Mungeni Mulenga on behalf of Justice Annie Sitali and Martin Musaluke, Wednesday, the Court found that Ngulube was not a respondent in the main matter, contrary to what the heading in the notice of motion for committal suggested.

Judge Mulenga noted that LAZ was, therefore, required not only to fully specify the parties in the main action, but also to specify the parties to the contempt proceedings being itself as LAZ and Ngulube as the alleged contemnor.

“This was clearly not done and constitutes an irregularity,” Justice Mulenga said.

She added that the notice of motion did not state the alleged contemptuous words, but only made reference to an audio recording.

She said LAZ, in alleging contempt in the audio recording, was required to particularise the statements to enable Ngulube meet the charge and not be in doubt as to the specific breaches alleged.

The Court found that the notice of motion for committal to prison by LAZ lacked sufficient particularity, contrary to the requirements of Order 52 Rule 4 of the White Book.

“Having found that the notice of motion does not sufficiently specify the particulars of the alleged contempt, the respondent’s application to set aside/dismiss for irregularity, the applicant’s notice of motion for committal succeeds and the applicant’s notice of motion filed on August 23, 2019, is accordingly dismissed with costs to the respondent,” said Justice Mulenga.

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