Chikopa tribunal halted again

The infamous Chikopa Tribunal set up by President Michael Sata to investigate the alleged misconduct of three judges was yesterday halted for the second time after Ndola High Court Judge Mwinde Siavwapa granted the two High Court Judges leave to commence judicial review proceedings to challenge the constitutionality of the tribunal.

The two High Court Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna who are supposed to appear before Judge Chikopa together with Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda have challenged the constitutionality of the tribunal as they seek justice.

The granting of leave for judicial review to the two judges by Judge Siavwapa means the Chikopa Tribunal has been halted indefinitely pending the outcome of the matter.

Judge Siavwapa said leave to seek judicial review by the two judges will also act as a stay of execution of the matter,

The stay of execution means the Chikopa Tribunal which was supposed to commence its sittings on June 18 would be suspended until the matter in which the two judges are seeking judicial review is resolved.

President Sata’s tribunal which is being chaired by Judge Chikopa, from Malawi was constituted in April 2012 after he suspended the three judges accusing them of professional misconduct.

This is the second time that the Tribunal has been halted by the courts after Judge Flugence Chisanga in May 2012 granted the three judges an injunction stopping all the proceedings of the tribunal.

The matter has suffered an unprecedented number of recusals from eminent judges who for the first time in history have declined to preside over cases that seem to have targeted members of the judiciary as well as former President Rupiah Banda.

Four judges so far have declined to preside over president Banda’s case where he is challenging the removal of his immunity from prosecution and the illegality of Speaker of the National Assembly having fast-forwarded the debate of the motion and voting on it even after all but two of the opposition MPs had staged a walkout in protest against the motion.

President Sata and the Patriotic Front (PF) have stood politically resolute to ensure that the two High Court Judges and the Supreme Court Judge are purged from the judiciary on alleged transgressions and even when the Supreme Court ruled that the tribunal should not go ahead, the state decided to ignore the ruling and went ahead to commence the proceedings of the tribunal.

But yesterday’s ruling by Judge Siavwapa has yet again thrown the discredited tribunal into total disarray.

Judge Chikopa has been in the country since April 2012 enjoying Zambia’s tax-payers money for doing nothing.

His stay has drawn strong criticism from various stakeholders such as the civil society organization, the church and opposition political parties who have demanded that President Sata sends the Malawi Judge back to his country until all legal and constitutional matters surrounding the tribunal have been settled.

Sources within the judiciary yesterday confirmed that Judge Siavwapa, was re-allocated the case after Judge Timothy Katenwkwa, who is a friend of Fred M’membe, owner of the Post Newspaper and a principal driver of the tribunal, recused himself fearing that he would be misunderstood.

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