State sabotages RB judicial review

The State yesterday effectively sabotaged an attempt by former president Rupiah Banda to question the regularity, propriety and reasonableness of the manner in which Parliament removed his immunity. The matter which should have been heard yesterday at an inter-party session was adjourned at the request of the state which has decided to appeal the decision by Judge Anne Sitali to grant the former President Judicial Review. Effectively this means that the state will continue to prosecute RB in the magistrates courts while the slow and laborious process of appeal in the Supreme Court takes its course. It is therefore unlikely that a decision over parliaments ruling to remove immunity will be questioned before the criminal prosecution is completed thereby making it an academic exercise of no effect. The intention of Judicial Review was to question many aspects of the manner in which Parliament hurriedly and without regard to law and precedence proceeded to debate a motion on the immunity of the former President while a petition was being heard in the high court. According to precedence established by Parliament in Zambia and the United Kingdom a matter that is in court cannot be debated in Parliament as this is sub-judice Judge Sitali in granting leave ruled that there was a precedence in the courts of law that matters before the courts cannot be heard by Parliament or any other body until they are disposed of. Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini in his ruling in parliament on a point of order raised whether it was in order to debate the motion on the removal of Mr Banda’s immunity said Parliament had its own rules of procedure. Mr Banda’s lawyers had contended that the decision to move the motion without due and proper inquiry as to whether the allegations presented as grounds constituted acts performed in his personal or official capacity was illegal and irregular.