Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito may have had a good day at the Magistrates Court having his nolle proesqui upheld, but there was bad news for him at the Lusaka High Court where he lost the bid to prosecute his business partner Fred M’membe who is facing defamation charges.
Today’s decision will likely furthermore have an impact on Nchito’s other case in which he moved to enter a nolle prosequi against himself.
Nchito had on 8th May, 2014 applied to the Lusaka High Court to take over the case in which Post Newspaper owner Fred M’membe had been sued by former President Rupiah Banda for defamation.
The Lusaka High Court this morning ruled that Nchito cannot take over the prosecution of Post Newspaper owner Fred M’membe because it is not in public interest as M’membe was a business partner to Nchito. High Court Judge Chalwe Mchenga, who is himself a former DPP, ruled that the DPP can only take over a case that is privately prosecuted on public interest and Nchito prosecuting M’membe would not be in public interest but personal interest.
This means that the ruling made by Lusaka Magistrate Lameck Mwale that upheld the decision by Nchito to issue a nolle to himself has to go for review at the High Court.
A lawyer representing Newton Nguni said the High Court ruling renders Magistrate Lameck Mwale’s ruling useless.
“This means that the DPP entering a nolle to himself is not in public interest. So the High Court has to review the lower courts ruling,” he said.
The matter of Nchito’s self-nolle has become a public controversy, especially after the embattled DPP sought to forge a political alliance with the United Party for National Development (UPND) by also entering a nolle prosequi in a case against its leader Hakainde Hichilema.
The UPND media outlet Zambian Watchdog celebrated the Magistrate’s ruling under the headline, “Mutembo 2, Rupiah 0” authored by Ephraim Shakafuswa, a younger brother to Jonas Shakafuswa.