Khumbo Bonzoe Soko, one of the lawyers who represented Vice-President Saulos Chilima in the May 21 presidential election nullification case, has told the Malawi Law Society (MLS) that he did not threaten Electoral Commission lawyer Tamanda Chokotho.
His response to MLS followed an accusation Chokotho made that Soko, alongside another lawyer for Chilima, Marshal Chilenga, threatened him to abuse his duty in the High Court of Malawi.
In his letter to MLS dated September 17 2020, Chokotho claimed that Soko and Chilenga separately contacted him and asked him to pay what the court awarded lawyers who represented petitioners Chilima and President Lazarus Chakwera, than go for a review.
The court awarded legal teams for the petitioners K7 billion.
But Soko, in his letter to MLS dated September 22 2020, denied charges of intimidation and alleged attempt to wrongfully influence Chokhoto in his conduct of the matter.
He said: “I actually find the said allegations to be unreasonable, vile and malicious and specifically designed to injure my reputation as a legal practitioner. They actually border on harassment.
“What Mr. Chokotho has conveniently omitted to advise yourself and the addressees of his letter, however, are that this was not the first time that we have had conversations about elections case in general as well as the issue of party and party costs in particular.”
Soko attached screenshots of WhatsApp and Facebook conversations he had had with Chokotho.
He said lawyers are permitted to engage each other with a view to settling matters that are being litigated in court for the purpose of achieving expeditious as well as economic disposal of cases.
Added Soko: “Secondly, I must say that the decision of Mr. Chokhotho to deprive your office of the full context in which we had our exchanges is rather telling of his intentions and motives.”
He accused Chokotho of scheming to inflict the most possible damage on his character, saying that during the case Chokotho had found it fashionable to make scandalous and libellous allegations against his colleagues.
MLS honorary secretary Martha Kaukonde in an interview yesterday said Soko notified her that he had responded to the society’s letter. She said she was yet to receive it officially, adding Chilenga was yet to respond.
Chokotho claimed in his letter that the two lawyers urged him not to waste time with assessment of the costs expected to be done by the court as was instructed by the commissions, with Chilenga allegedly warning him he would face consequences if he insisted on the review of the costs.
The letter, also copied to Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda, Anti-Corruption Bureau director general Reyneck Matemba, Blantyre Police Station officer in-charge and the commission’s chairperson, states that Chilenga was sent to warn him he would face consequences if he did not cooperate and insist on court’s review of costs, but did not disclose who sent him.
Chakwera partnered with Chilima for presidency in the fresh poll, and supported by other political parties, they dislodged Democratic Progressive Party candidate Peter Mutharika, making him a one-term president.