LOSING independent candidate for the Livingstone Constituency, Edwin Simwimba, has told the High Court that his witnesses have become hostile and refused to testify after the bundle of documents were submitted to the Respondent.
This is in a case where Mr Simwimba has petitioned the election of United Party for National Development (UPND) Livingstone Member of Parliament (MP) Mathews Jere.
Mr Simwimba has asked the High Court to nullify Mr Jere’s election because of alleged corruption, intimidation, violence, and removal of campaign powers instigated by UPND supporters.
He also claimed that Mr Jere did not quality to file in his nomination because he was removed from the Livingstone City Council when the local authority was suspended but the Respondent dismissed the claim saying he was merely suspended with all other councillors and he was not removed from office as alleged.
Testifying before High Court Judge Bowa Mwape in the Livingstone High Court on Wednesday, Mr Simwimba said most witnesses had earlier on expressed willingness to testify but they changed their positions after the bundles of documents were served on Mr Jere.
“I suspect that Mr Jere communicated to the witnesses because the bundle of documents had phone numbers for the witnesses.
“One of the witnesses, who wanted to testify, is Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) Livingstone District Secretary Christine Lubinda but I am shocked that she is not here in court. A number of them have become hostile and yet they voluntarily wanted to testify when they heard that I was petitioning,” Mr Simwimba said.
But during cross examination by Mr Jere’s lawyer Paul Mulenga on why he could not compel the witnesses to appear before the court, Mr Simwimba said he did call them but they ran away.
When asked on why those who ran away could not be compelled by the court to testify, Mr Simwimba said he did not know the Court procedure.
He also agreed that Ms Lubinda, who had agreed to testify, was not part of his campaign team and that any alleged threats on her related to MMD and not to any other candidate.
Mr Simwimba, who is being represented by lawyer Isaac Masonga, said he did not personally witness the alleged locking up of Malota Poling Station by UPND supporters.
When reminded that Livingstone Constituency Returning Officer Tedison Nyirongo told the same court that he was not under undue pressure to announce results and UPND supporters did not lock up Election Commission of Zambia (ECZ) officials as well as journalists and monitors during the announcement of results at the totalling centre as alleged in the petition, Mr Simwimba said Mr Nyirongo was lying.
Mr Simwimba said although he did not personally witness the incident, he heard it on Zambia Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) news as well as in Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail.
On several occasions, Mr Justice Bowa guided Mr Simwimba to restrict himself to answering questions from the lawyer instead of going round the matter.
At one point when Mr Simwimba was seemingly not following court rules, the Judge asked his lawyer to guide the petitioner.
“Witness, answer the question from the lawyer. The lawyer is part of the court and he is asking questions on my behalf. Anything you say against the lawyer is also against me. Do not lose your cool,” Mr Justice Bowa said.