The Tribunal set up to probe three judges is a fraud and flawed and President Michael Sata must exercise his conscience and take back the matter to the Judicial Complaint Authority (JCA) as per standard procedure, says a consortium of 11 civil society organizations.
The tribunal to be presided by Malawian High Court Judge Lovemore Chikopa was ordered by Mr Sata to try Supreme Court Justice Philip Musonda and two High Court Judges Nigel
Kalonde Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga on allegations of professional misconduct.
Addressing the Press on behalf of other 11 organizations Operation Young Vote (OYV) executive director Guess Nyirenda said that the ruling had set a bad precedent because every Zambian aggrieved would be running to the President for tribunals.
Mr Nyirenda said that it was the feeling of the civil society that the tribunal was a fraud and President Sata must consider taking the matter back to JCA in order for the course of natural justice to prevail over the matter.
He said that the move was bad because the existence of JCA has been rendered irrelevant.
“You recall ladies and gentlemen that government argued that Judge Chikopa could not go back because he still had work to do in Zambia. The man literary and shamelessly stayed in the country at the expense of the Zambian taxpayers’ money because, assumably, the state was already aware of the direction of the Supreme Court ruling,” said Mr. Nyirenda. He said that it was neither surprising nor shocking to hear the ruling going in the State’s favour and the immediate loud reaction from the government corridors for the tribunal to start sitting as soon as possible. Mr. Nyirenda said almost immediately media adverts started flying around asking the Pressmen to accredit themselves to cover the sittings of the tribunal, an act which showed deep desperation by the State.
He said that Zambians had always respected the outcome of courts, but on the Tribunal;- “We listened and read part of the judgment from the Supreme Court regarding the appeal by the State on the High Court ruling stopping the tribunal from sitting. Although government waited for the outcome of the tribunal for about a year something that has been construed as respect for the rule of law and the principle of the separation of powers among and between the three arms of government, the undertones were clear that government was determined to proceed with it.”
Mr. Nyirenda said that the continued stay of the Tribunal chairperson Judge Chikopa when the matter was still before the courts of law and being supported and cared for by government despite numerous calls for him to return to his home country was another fraud of the whole process as it indicated another scandal.
He said that it was surprising to see the court instead of giving a legal interpretation, it decided to offer counsel to the state on how to proceed with the matter.
“This is extremely sad. It is like the court was trying to impress their fellow judges and also the contracting authorities. This judgment is not only a source of worry to us but also an assault on the judiciary and justice system and a draw back on the much sung about judicial reforms,” he said.
“We therefore wish to state that the outcome of the tribunal was pre-determined and pre-meditated hence it has little respect from most interest groups, it was flawed. We also say that the head of the tribunal cannot conduct himself in an honourable manner as he was highly compromised with so many luxuries from government.”
Mr. Nyirenda said that the corrupt and flawed tribunal headed by Judge Chikopa had put judges on the spot for carrying out their duties and those who wanted them prosecuted made them pay for crimes they did not commit.