The High Court in Blantyre on Friday ordered Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Uladi Mussa to pay United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi for the costs incurred since the defamation case started.
This comes after Atupele sued Mussa for allegedly uttering unfair remarks against him on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) through a programme called Tiuzeni Zoona aired on April 14 2013.
The two parties agreed to mediation but Uladi’s camp did not show up at the mediation meetings. The case was then referred to court after the mediator James Misty Masumbu, had issued a certificate of non-compliance.
Lawyer representing Atupele, Jai Banda, has pegged the cost at K1.5 million (about $3 750) , but lawyer for Uladi Paul Maulidi said he will challenge the order.
Banda wanted the court to strike out Mussa’s defence that he uttered those words because Atupele is a public figure and is subject to scrutiny. This, according to Banda, was in accordance with Order 14 of the Courts Mandatory Mediation Rules (2004).
However, Mussa’s legal counsel opposed to Banda’s plea, saying that would be miscarriage of justice.
In his ruling, registrar Matapa Kacheche decided against striking out the defendant’s defence. He however, observed that there was no trust in the mediation process and ordered a stop.
Kacheche then ordered that Uladi should pay Atupele costs of the case from the time it started to the current status within 21 days.
“If the defendant fails to comply with this order by the end of 21 days, the defendant’s defence shall stand struck out and the plaintiff will be at liberty to enter judgment,” ordered Kacheche.
In an interview on Monday, Banda put the figure at K1.5 million. But Maulidi, who said was aware of the judgment, stressed that he would appeal.