President Michael Sata yesterday stunned the Lusaka High Court when he ordered a court marshal to look for a judge upon his arrival at the court for his defamation case against the Daily Nation newspaper.
Mr Sata who was accompanied by his son Lusaka Mayor Mulenga Sata, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and other party officials and cadres disembarked from his private beige BMW car and walked to the foyer where he immediately asked one of the marshals about the whereabouts of the Judge because he was tired of waiting.
“You court marshal where is your Judge. I am tired of waiting” as his lawyer tried to remind him on the need to maintain silence because there were processes and court etiquette to be observed.
The marshal quickly disappeared to the Judge’s chambers and came back a few minutes later but Mr Sata was at it again and ordered him to go back and only come with the Judge much to embarrassment of the people that filled up the court.
When Mr Sata’s case was called his lawyer Mr Bonaventure Mutale asked for a short adjournment from the trial Judge Justice Florence Lengalenga because the President had decided to personally testify.
As he entered the court room Mr Sata noticed PF Lusaka Province provincial chairman Jeffrey Chumbwe seated and commented “Look at Mr Chumbwe, he looks like a criminal”
He then looked at a police officer in court and said he looked shabby. “His uniform looks very shabby. I don’t like the way he is dressed” as the court listened in total disbelief.
After the policeman who was attacked walked away he descended on another one and said “Madam Judge there is another policeman there trying to embarrass me I don’t like the way he is dressed. They will think I don’t look after the police well”
He later quipped “Look at how beautiful this Hon. Judge is looking. She is looking like a real Judge in uniform and unlike those police officers (pointing at them) they are not even in uniform. I will personally raise this preliminary issue.”
President Sata continued with his running commentaries forcing Justice Lengalenga to remind lawyers representing the President to inform him that he was expected to remain silent during the proceedings.
“Counsel (Bonaventure Mutale) tell your client (President Sata) to observe silence, this is a court,” said Judge Lengalenga, while Mr. Mutale just stared at President Sata.
Justice Lengalenga pleaded with Mr Sata to concentrate on the matter before the court.
When she asked President Sata to state his full names after taking oath by lifting the Bible, the Head of State instead asked the court if that was necessary as he was widely known. He however gave his full names as Michael Charles Katongo Chilufya Mwango Sata.”
When Judge Lengalenga asked Mr Sata for his residential address he replied: “I resident in State House grounds” And when asked if it was the one on Independence Avenue Mr Sata replied that there was only one State House unless the Judge knew of a different one.
His lawyers tried in vain to correct him as he went on to tell the court that he resided at Nkhwazi House, but not in the open grounds .
And when she asked Mr Sata to speak slowly because he was speaking too fast, the President retorted: “Are you accusing me that I cannot pay for a court reporter who can take notes?”
Justice Lengalenga proceeded to ask the President if he was a friend of Fred M’membe and Mutembo Nchito, Mr Sata replied: “No I am not. I am a friend of all citizens including Fred M’membe for as long as they are not criminals like Richard Sakala”
He added “In fact I am also a friend of the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) and whoever borrows money from it must pay back because I hate crooks. But when they were borrowing this money I was not aware because they were not consult me.”
And when Mr Sakala’s lawyers wanted to make an application for an adjournment, President Sata was heard saying: “If it is an adjournment we are refusing.”
According to the law, the Daily Nation and Mr Sakala’s lawyers will subject the President to rigorous questioning in an open court which will last long hours.
The matter was adjourned to June 24 and 25 for cross examination and trial respectively.