The Lilongwe High Court has set aside ruling in assessing how much leader of the opposition in Parliament Lazarus Chakwera should pay Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation George Chaponda for defamation.
Chaponda successfully sued Chakwera over remarks the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president made in the heat of the May 20 Tripartite Elections campaign.
Chakwera is reported to have told journalists on his return from the United States of America on March 4 2014 at Kamuzu International Airport that Chaponda said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the 2009 general election because it had national appeal not because of support from the Northern Region.
Chaponda is quoted to have responded: “Let me challenge you, we will win in May without people from the North voting for us.”
The High Court in Lilongwe found Chakwera’s claims libellous and has set aside judgement and given the defence seven days to put a notice of intention to defend.
According to Chakwera’s lawyer, Gustave Kaliwo, the defence entered defence four days after being sued but claims Chaponda’s lawyer, Chimwemwe Sikwese, failed to incorporate the same.
The ruling, therefore, means that following a successful defence application, the case will enter into a full trial where both parties will be expected to testify in court before assessing damages.
In an interview after the ruling, Kaliwo said the judgement was irregular as it was obtained after the defendant had filed a notice of intention to defend and served documents on time.
He said: “We supplied all the documents supporting defence on time but for some reason they were never entered but we are happy for the ruling and we will make the application.”
Sikwese also confirmed the ruling, but asked for more time to respond. n