UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema yesterday pleaded not guilty to defaming President Michael Sata.
Hichilema, 50 of Serval Road Kabulonga in Lusaka, is facing a charge of defamation of the President before Lusaka magistrate Boniface Mwiinga.
Particulars were that on January 13 this year, Hichilema with intent to bring the President's name into hatred, ridicule and contempt did allegedly publish a defamatory statement which was covered in the Daily Nation of January 14 this year.
The magistrate has since excused Hichilema not to appear on February 27 this year for mention because he would be campaigning for his candidates in the upcoming by-elections in Livingstone and Mpongwe.
His lawyers applied to have his client excused from appearing before the court for mention due to his campaign programmes.
The matter has since been adjourned to April 9 and 10 for trial.
Meanwhile, MMD leader Nevers Mumba, 52, appeared in a Kitwe magistrate's court.
Particulars of the offence are that Mumba, on December 24, last year in Kitwe, publicly conducted himself in a manner likely to cause breach of the peace.
He appeared before senior resident magistrate Daniel Musonda and denied the charge.
Mumba took plea after the court refused to grant the defence an application for an adjournment.
Lawyer representing the opposition leader Irene Kunda had applied for an adjournment because another lawyer, Makebi Zulu was not in court.
Ms Kunda said she was standing in for Mr Zulu who was not in court because he was unwell.
She said Mr Zulu had filed a notice to raise a preliminary issue and that for him to do so, he must have noticed the defects in the charge.
In response, Kitwe District Prosecutions Officer Gabriel Chipalo said the State had not been availed with the submissions that the defence intended to raise a preliminary issue.
Mr Chipalo said being a nullity by law and in the absence of the defect in the charge sheet, the accused person can take plea.
In his ruling, the magistrate said during the last hearing on January 4 this year, he allowed an adjournment to enable the parties make submissions on the preliminary issue and ruled that the proceedings should continue.