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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 14:35 GMT
Malawi minister wins court case
Map of Malawi
By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

The High Court in Blantyre has acquitted Dumbo Lemani, the flamboyant presidential affairs minister and trusted aide of President Bakili Muluzi, of contempt of court.


I am a free man now. I am a free man now.

Dumbo Lemani
Charges were brought against him and another senior ruling party leader by sacked former senior minister Brown Mpinganjira.

Dressed in a black suit complete with a clerical collar, Dumbo Lemani arrived at the court room in style, clutching a gold-embossed Bible in one hand and waving to his supporters with the other.

His co-accused Davis Kapito, the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) southern region governor, who has been experiencing failing health lately, could not sit through the marathon one and a half hour judgement by presiding judge, Justice Frank Kapanda.

The two were being accused of acting in contempt of court when their erstwhile brother-in-arms, Brown Mpinganjira, was answering an official corruption case at a lower court in January.

Ruling

Blantyre Principal Resident Magistrate Silvester Kalembera had issued a gag order, restraining anybody from making judgemental comments on the case.

Dumbo Lemani
Flamboyant minister Dumbo Lemani
But the two continued castigating Mpinganjira regardless.

However, Justice Kapanda told the packed courtroom, that Mpinganjira's lawyers - Ralph Kasambara and Viva Nyimba - had failed to prove contempt in the case.

He said he doubted the authenticity of video tapes presented as evidence because the one who filmed it did not testify, creating a possibility that it could be faked.

Immidiately after the ruling, Lemani jumped up in his seat and started chanting: "I am a free man now. I am a free man now."

Celebration

He was joined outside the court by a group of about about 100 singing and dancing women.

Dumbo Lemani
Flamboyant minister Dumbo Lemani
He immediately climbed on board his convertible BMW and waved a flywhisk at them, in immitation of the late dictator Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

He drove slowly to a site near the court where he told a group of his supporters that had he been convicted he would have started preaching in prison.

"I was going to go in not as a minister but as a reverend to convert the prisoners to the Lord," he said.

However, he said, since he had been acquitted he was now going to throw his wieght behind the controversial push for President Muluzi to run for an unconstitutional third term of office.

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See also:

01 Feb 01 | Africa
Malawi minister causes court stir
05 Feb 01 | Africa
Judge punishes Blantyre mayor
06 Nov 00 | Africa
Heads roll in Malawi cabinet
29 Dec 00 | Africa
Malawi minister freed on bail
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