REPORTS of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Lilian Siyunyi’s intention to Appeal acquittal of Charmaine Musonda in a murder case has unsettled opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) campaign team in the Chilanga parliamentary bye-election.
According to sources within the UPND campaign team, Siyunyi’s plan to appeal against the acquittal has sent some shivers among senior party official who fear that the move jeopardise the party’s participation of the Chilanga bye-elections as its Charmaine Musonda could be heading back to jail.
Charmaine was arrested and charged former Chilanga Member of Parliament Keith Mukata before she was acquitted by the Lusaka High Court. Mukata was sentenced to death while Charmaine was acquitted because she elected to remain silent and said nothing to all the accusations. Mukata has since appealed against his jail sentence. The court did however grant the prosecutors permission to appeal.
“There is serious information circulating around suggesting that the DPP is planning to appeal against our candidate’s acquittal. This is information has unsettled our camp. We don’t know what will happen if she (Musonda) is sent back to jail to defend herself,” said a source within the UPND campaign camp. “There is a sense of fear that we might lose out on our candidate if the Supreme Court grants the DPP leave to appeal. The information has also triggered some debate among our members, questioning why we adopted Musonda who had a pending case of appeal. This debate is devastating and damaging UPND on the ground whether we like it or not. Even some senior members of the party are split over this matter. Definitely the DPP move will be a blow to us.”
The adoption of Musonda by UPND had been characterised with controversy as few individuals within and outside the party expressed reservations against her adoption for the forthcoming bye- election scheduled for June 5. A number of displeased UPND members took to Facebook to question the party leadership over the decision.
But UPND Secretary General Stephen Katuka defended her adoption saying Musonda beat other 10 candidates who expressed interest in the seat.
Katuka explained that UPND top leadership did not impose her candidature on the people of Chilanga but that they chose her for themselves. He said Musonda was a popular candidate and that the party will scoop the seat with her candidature.
Katuka, however, noted that in a democratic dispensation, not everyone can be happy with any given decision hence people have the right to complain as long as it does not bring conflicts within the party.