THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed the election petition for Rufunsa Constituency against Member of Parliament (MP) Kenneth Chipungu.
High Court judge Nigel Mutuna threw out the petition on grounds that the petitioners failed to prove all allegations levelled against Mr Chipungu, whose election he said was fair and valid.
After the judgement, Mr Chipungu said he was relieved that the matter had been rested, as he and his family spent ‘sleepless’ nights
thinking about how the verdict would be.
Losing Patriotic Front (PF) candidate Phillip Mutantika and his United Party for National Development (UPND) counterpart Sheila Mulyata had
asked the court to nullify the election of Mr Chipungu.
In his judgment yesterday, Mr justice Mutuna said witnesses failed to furnish the court with sufficient evidence on all the allegations.
The judge ruled that it was clear that the evidence led by the petitioners and their witnesses fell far short of the required standard to allow the court to nullify the Rufunsa seat.
“I find that the petitioners have failed to prove the allegations and by way of conclusion, the petitioners’ claim fails and I accordingly
dismiss it with costs. The same are to be agreed in default, taxed, leave to appeal granted, “he said.
Mr Justice Mutuna said the petitioners failed to convince the court that Mr Chipungu engaged in corrupt practices by distributing cheques and cash
to women’s clubs and schools.
He said he did not see how Mr Chipungu‘s conduct influenced the electorate not to vote for the two petitioners during the September 20, 2011 tripartite elections.
“From what I have observed, Mr Chipungu was merely distributing the said items on behalf of the Government.
He did not use his personal money to give to the people in Rufunsa,” the judge said.
He said from the evidence, the former minister sourced the money from the Ministry of Youth while other monies were sourced from other
ministries, especially for women’s clubs.
In an interview after the verdict, Mr Chipungu said unlike what he and other people used to think previously, the judgment had proved that the judiciary was independent.
He said he was among politicians who did not believe in corruption and that he knew from the beginning that his campaigns were clean and straight-forward.
“It is very difficult to get a second chance in Rufunsa. I am one of those who retained that seat and it is due to my hard work and transparent manner in which I handle my constituency that I was able to win an election, “Mr Chipungu said.
By Times Reporter