Immediate past State president Joyce Banda has taken to court Mzimba Hora legislator Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, demanding a return of a People’s Party (PP) vehicle assigned to him in 2013 as regional governor.
Banda, who is also PP president, has asked the court for an order that Ngwira returns the vehicle; that he pays damages for conversion of ownership of the said motor vehicle and for loss of use.
According to summons filed at the High Court in Mzuzu on Thursday through Jivason and Company legal firm, Banda said she gave Ngwira a KIA motor vehicle registration ZA 1457 in 2013 to ease his mobility while serving PP as regional governor for the North.
In the Civil Cause number 7 of 2018, Banda, widely known as JB, also argues that she has always retained title and ownership of the vehicle and never relinquished her property rights.
Reads the court documents: “When the defendant [Mzomera] was expelled from the People’s Party on 14th December 2015, it naturally followed that he would no longer perform duties and functions for the People’s Party and; hence, the claimant demanded back the said motor vehicle, among other pieces of property, through People’s Party, as the vehicle was meant to be used for purposes of the People’s Party.
“Contrary to the wishes of the title-holder and owner of the said vehicle, the defendant has never surrendered the vehicle either to People’s Party as required of him or to the claimant or her agents.”
According to the summons, Ngwira is refusing to surrender the vehicle on the pretext that Banda gave him the vehicle as a gift.
The summons further state that since joining the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in July last year, Ngwira has been using the vehicle on DPP duties, including transporting party members, contrary to the wishes of JB.
Reads the summons: “Wherefore, the claimant prays for the following reliefs: An order that the defendant return KIA motor vehicle registration number ZA 1457 to the claimant or her agent; an order that the defendant pay the claimant damages for conversion of the said motor vehicle and for loss of use thereof; and an order that the Defendant be condemned in costs of this action.”
In an interview on Thursday, PP deputy spokesperson Ackson Kalaile Banda said while Ngwira has refused to return the vehicle, former director of women in the Northern Region, Cliffa Khondowe, returned a Toyota Hilux pick-up that she was given.
“I can confirm that Khondowe returned the vehicle, but Mzomera has not, hence the decision to instruct lawyers to take the matter to court,” he said.
But in an interview on Thursday, Ngwira wondered why the list of property has been reduced to one vehicle when earlier PP claimed that he was keeping a minibus, three motorcycles, bicycles, party cloth and other materials.
He said he suspects that the move is aimed at tarnishing his image since it was not procedural for him to surrender the vehicle when it came as a gift from Banda.
Said Ngwira: “I am not shaken. God knows how the vehicle was given. The vehicle came as a gift for serving her well. Actually, it was given to me even before I became regional governor. Even for the vehicle in question, I don’t use it. I have never offended her.
“If the former president asked for the vehicle, I would be ready to give her back. God is watching. I am also wondering why they would start this fight now when I was kicked out of the party in 2015.
“Why haven’t they been asking for the vehicle? I know it is just a battle against me. I also tend to wonder why is it that it’s just my name… that people are fighting. Someone is behind all this.”
He said he was ready to face Banda and others in court so that justice prevails.
The matter comes just days after the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Ngwira last Friday on allegations that he misappropriated K650 000 under the Local Development Fund (LDF) in 2010.
Ngwira is suspected to have committed an offence under Section 27 (2) of the Corrupt Practices Act (CPA) for using his position to influence the awarding of a contract for the construction of a teacher’s house at Lukwelukwe in his area.
The Mzimba First Grade Magistrate’s Court granted him bail, and committed the matter to Mzuzu Chief Resident Magistrate‘s Court. The matter resumes mid-February.
In 2009, Ngwira won on a DPP ticket, but dumped the party and joined PP in 2012 after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika. When PP lost the elections in 2014, Ngwira became vocal, urging the party to replace Banda with former State vice-president Khumbo Kachali.
However, the party fired Ngwira from his position as provincial chairperson for the North and expelled him from the party. He rejoined DPP in July 2017.