The High Court in Lilongwe yesterday gave 42 days to the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its four estranged members to prepare for a full trial.
The four—vice-president for the South Kondwani Nankhumwa, secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey (SG), treasurer general Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda—dragged the party to court challenging their expulsion from their positions and the party.
Lawyer representing the four, Cassius Chidothe, said in an interview after the scheduling conference held in the judge’s chamber that his team applied for the amendment of statements and the court granted them their wish. He said the defence will also amend its statements.
He said: “We have been given seven days to do our amendments and thereafter the defence will also be allowed to do its amendments.
“There is also seven days each for both parties to exchange witness statements and another seven for ourselves and the defence to exchange skeletal arguments, among others.”
The four were fired for allegedly influencing the rejection of DPP leader Peter Mutharika’s nomination of former Nsanje Central legislator Francis Kasaila as Leader of Opposition in Parliament to replace Nankhumwa.
The two sides later agreed to settle their differences through a mediation process, but the talks collapsed, forcing High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda, who led the negotiations, to refer the case for full trial.
The claimants are expected to parade four witnesses while the defence will parade one witness, according to Chidothe.
The court has yet to set a date for trial.
On Monday last week, Nankhumwa, Mhango and Grezelder boycotted a central executive committee meeting at Mutharika’s house in Mangochi.
In an earlier interview, Nthenda argued that they wrote Mutharika, requesting for a meeting in August, but he did not respond to them; hence, the decision to shun the Monday meeting.
But in an earlier interview, DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba said it was wrong to target Mutharika, insisting all decisions are made by the whole central executive committee not an individual.