A LUSAKA Magistrate has issued a bench warrant to arrest
Zambia's Post newspaper editor-in-chief Fred M'membe for not appearing
before court over contempt of court charges, according to a report in the Daily Nation.

M'membe, once arrested, will appear before Lusaka resident magistrate Charles Kafunda on Monday next week.

The magistrate had earlier in the week ordered The Post's entire editorial staff to appear before his court over an article that described the prosecution of the newspaper's news editor Chansa Kabwela as 'comedy of errors.'

However, several of the paper's journalists staff did not turn up, but state prosecutors and the magistrate were only interested in M'membe.

Only Post deputy editor-in-chief Sam Mujuda (currently acting editor-in-chief), managing editor Amos Malupenga and production editor Afeti Yulu appeared before the court.

The state prosecutors asked why M'membe was not present despite the court citing him as the editor-in-chief for contempt of court.

Lawyers for The Post submitted that M'membe is on study leave and was not working at the time an article authored by a Zambian Law Professor based in the USA Muna Ndulo concerning the prosecution of the newspaper's news editor, was published.

The lawyers submitted that Mujuda was acting editor-in-chief at the time the article in question was published.

"Fred M'membe has been on study leave for two, three months now pursuing his masters degree. The editor-in-chief in this case [Mujuda] is here," the lawyers argued.

The lawyers further argued that the summons were not properly served in that they did not mention the name M'membe but editor-in-chief and in that case Mujuda was before court.

However, state prosecutor Frank Mumbuna maintained that M'membe was supposed to be in court and his absence undermined the integrity and authority of the court.

Making a ruling on the matter, Magistrate Kafunda issued a bench warrant for M'membe to be arrested for not being in court.

Mujuda told the court that as acting editor-in-chief, he was responsible for whatever was published including the Prof Ndulo's article.

Magistrate Kafunda, therefore, cited Mujuda for contempt but maintained the bench warrant for the arrest of M'membe.

Click here to read the full report, posted on allafrica.com.