THE Patriotic Front owes about K37 million in legal fees for the ongoing parliamentary and local government petitions.
Affected lawyers have alleged that Mporokoso PF member of parliament Brian Mundubile, who is also chairperson of the legal affairs committee, was given the said money but has not yet paid about 20 law firms despite continued requests.
But Mundubile has denied the allegations, further wondering why the lawyers want to embarrass the party by bringing internal matters to the media.
Some of the lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told News Diggers that they had been pushing for their money for about a month now without any luck.
They disclosed that a meeting chaired by Mundubile last week resolved that the payments be made this week but that this was yet to be fulfilled.
“When we had a meeting on Tuesday, we were told that the money would be paid this week but whenever we ask or follow up on the matter, the people from the secretariat are not being forthcoming as to when the money will be paid. You can imagine we have represented these people, some of them have even won but now we are here waiting for money and we are not seeing any commitment. They should give us the same 50 per cent they are promising so that we can continue with our work because some of the petitions are ongoing,” one of the lawyers said.
Another lawyer wondered why the candidates were not being told the truth about the status of payments.
He asked the party should just come out clear if they were unable to cover the legal fees so that the lawyers could move on because even without the party, they could still recover their money directly from the candidates.
They further expressed displeasure at the manner in which some of the committee members had been disparaging them for simply asking for their money.
“When we ask about it, they are saying ‘we haven’t refused to pay you’, what kind of arrogance is that? They should understand that we had lives before these petitions and we survived so they shouldn’t treat us like beggars,” said the lawyer.
Mundubile did not pick any of this reporter’s calls when reached for a comment.
He, however, sent a group WhatsApp message to the lawyers, wondering why they had decided to take this matter to the media when the party had not refused to pay them their dues.
He wondered why the lawyers, who were engaged based on their interests in the party, would want to cause unnecessary embarrassment.
“Good evening fellow counsel, we have received several calls from various media houses asking us about payments to lawyers representing the party in the ongoing election petitions. Some media houses are alleging that our lawyers have taken the party to court for non-payments while others are asking why we decided to only pay a few law firms leaving out others (this of course is not true). Colleagues, I believe we all belong to this noble profession which observes its professional ethics religiously. We are therefore taken aback that the issues of payments can now be a subject of media stories. This is after we even had a virtual meeting as a team to discuss the same. We have continued to engage over the petitions and indeed payments. It is therefore surprising that the media houses should now become our medium of communication. Our response to the media has been that we can’t discuss matters of Client Lawyer relationship in the media. It indeed is very sad that some of our colleagues would want to embarrass the party in this manner,” wrote Mundubile.
“Our engagement was based on trust believing that the lawyers we chose had interests of the party but of course not for a free service. The source of this anxiety over payments is unfounded especially if those that rushed to the media could take a look at the minutes of the first meeting, where we agreed on how and at what intervals payments were to be made. Whoever took that route did it in very bad faith and was bent on just causing unnecessary embarrassment to the party. Fellow colleagues, let me assure you that as a party we remain committed to fulfilling our obligations of paying for the service you are rendering in the on-going petitions and that should there be any concerns let us address them in-house. I therefore wish to invite all of you colleagues to a virtual meeting on Thursday, 14th October 2021, at 20:00hours.”