Reinstated Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governor (Centre) Frank Katundulu has commenced court proceedings to commit to prison the party’s president Peter Mutharika and publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi.
Katundulu accuses the party, Mutharika and Dausi of defying a High Court order that directed them to facilitate travel and accommodation arrangements to enable the governor travel to Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre to participate at the party’s convention in April.
Lawyer for Katundulu, Innocentia Nkhoma Ottober, in an interview on Sunday, explained that she obtained permission from the High Court in Lilongwe last week, allowing her to start proceedings to commit Mutharika and Dausi to prison.
Ottober said: “A date is not yet set (for such proceedings), but I obtained leave last week to start committal to prison proceedings.”
Mutharika, who is also answering treason and perjury charges, is the DPP’s 2014 presidential candidate following his election at the said convention.
While the law bars convicted individuals from contesting for a public office, Mutharika, if convicted, may be allowed to contest the 2014 polls as a precedence was set in the contempt of court case involving MCP leader John Tembo and late Kate Kainja, who after they were convicted of contempt of court for holding a convention in 2002 against a High Court order for them not to, paid fines and went ahead to contest for a public office.
Chimwemwe Sikwese, lawyer representing the party, Mutharika and Dausi, while saying he was aware of the court matter, said in an interview on Sunday he had not been served yet on the matter of committal to prison proceedings.
He said initially, it was only the DPP that was sued, but Mutharika and Dausi have been added, arguing he expected an amendment to the order of injunction before proceedings of committal to prison.
Sikwese said: “But all I can say is that we are attending to the matters and we are going to respond accordingly.”
Ottober said the High Court restrained the DPP from firing his client and ordered the party to facilitate Katundulu’s travel to Blantyre, return a vehicle that was seized from him, but the party did not comply.
The DPP held its convention in Blantyre from April 17 to 19 where Mutharika was elected president with a landslide.
The DPP on March 20 fired Katundulu from the party through a meeting, which was convened by the party’s leadership and chaired by Dausi.
The court order reads: “It is further ordered that the defendants do immediately restore the plaintiff’s benefits including motor vehicle registration BP 8669 to the plaintiff and allow the plaintiff to attend and vote during the party convention scheduled for 17th April 2013.”