Opposition UPND leader, Hakainde Hichilema, this morning appeared before Lusaka Magistrate, Joshua Banda, in a case in which he is charged for publication of false information that may cause alarm to the nation contrary to Section 67 of the Penal Code.
UPND legal team that comprised Lusaka Lawyers Sakwiba Sikota, Jack Mwiimbu and Martha Mushipe, applied that the case be transferred to the High Court to determine the constitutionality of some of the charges as they cannot be determined by the Magistrate Court.
Among the issues raised were that Section 67 of the Penal Code was archaic as it was enacted in 1938 and only amended in 1958 under the colonial rule when there was no bill of rights.
The Lawyers contended that according to Section 67 of the Penal Code, the charged person must prove that the words were correct which is against the constitution that gives right of the accused to remain silent.
They further submitted that the charge is subject to misinterpretation where it says the statement is likely to cause alarm to the nation as it is not clear who determines alarm.
The UPND lawyers gave example of Defence Minister, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba who recently alleged that there were people who wanted to assassinate President Michael Sata, but he was not charged.
They also gave examples of Commerce Minister, Bob Sichinga, who recently alleged that MMD had printed K3 trillion fake money, as well as incidents where current President Sata once said UNIP were keeping arms in Sindamisale as well as when he (Sata) said Saddam Hussein was hiding in Zambia.
The UPND defence team also argued that DPP Mutembo Nchito technically compromised himself in prosecuting the case by writing a letter to the Police requesting Mr. Hichilema to apologise and be forgiven.
The case has been adjourned to Thursday for determination of the issues raised.
Meanwhile, hundreds of UPND supporters blocked independence avenue when they drove from Chikwa Court to party secretariat.
Government officers at Cabinet and Vice President’s offices line-up along the road and windows to have a glance of the convey accompanying the UPND leader.
At the secretariat Mr. Hichilema thanked his supporters for the solidarity.