Court fines Nawakwi K30,000 for contempt
By Mwaka Ndawa
FDD leader Edith Nawakwi has been fined K30,000 by the Lusaka High Court over her commentary on active court proceedings involving African Life Financial Services Limited.
This is in a matter where Dickson Mtonga and 22 other security guards sued African Life Financial Service Limited in 2014 demanding US$300,000 as terminal benefits owed to them following their transfer from Anglo American.
During a press briefing prior to the 2021 general elections, Nawakwi alleged that the former workers of Anglo American were not paid their dues before their transition to African Life in 2000, whilst the case is currently pending determination.
African Life Financial Services Limited asked the court to commit Nawakwi to prison for misrepresenting facts when she alleged that it was liable to pay its former employees $300,000 when the claim is a subject in an active court case.
When the matter came up for hearing of the contempt application in March this year before judge Susan Wanjelani, African Life Financial Services Limited executive director Munakupya Hantuba asked the court to penalise Nawakwi for discussing the matter.
He said in February 2021, the issue became a subject of public discussion by the contemnor who publicly debated the merits and demerits of the case.
In her defence, Nawakwi conceded to having committed African Life Financial Services Limited to pay 23 of its employees their terminal benefits following their transfer from Anglo American.
Nawakwi claimed that she made the utterances in public interest on behalf of the employees who died without getting their benefits including those who approach her to seek alms.
During cross examination by African Life’s lawyer Kamuwanga Phiri, the former minister of finance clarified that she was not appointed as a spokesperson by employees of African Life Financial Services Limited, neither was she appointed as an administratrix of the deceased employees.
In her judgment, judge Wanjelani found Nawakwi guilty of contempt of court.
She said the contemnor could not claim she made the utterances in public interest and that being an educated woman she ought to have known that the matter was subjudice.
Judge Wanjelani has since given Nawakwi a 30-day ultimatum in which to pay the money into court, failure to which she will serve a month in jail.