Chikopa Tribunal

The statement by the Attorney General Mumba Malila suggesting that Malawian Judge Lovemore Chikopa held some discretion to interpret our constitution is totally unacceptable.

The forces behind the Tribunal may be powerful, but not so powerful as to override the supreme law of the land, the constitution, which clearly provides for a person to resign a constitutional office.

There is even precedence regarding two previous constitutional holders who resigned before their Tribunals commenced. The resignations put paid to the Tribunals. This is the law.

The determination with which this Chikopa Tribunal is proceeding shows that there is more at stake than meets the eye.

The whole purpose of the Tribunal which the President set up was to consider if sufficient grounds existed for the removal of the three judges. As it stands Judge Musonda has decided to remove himself from the Judiciary before any recommendation, one way or the other is made.

The suggestion that  Judge Chikopa has any shred of  discretion to proceed  after the resignation of Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda, his professional senior,  suggests  one inevitable conclusion that the mission of the Tribunal was in fact to find him guilty and recommend his removal from the bench.

We say so because in constituting the Tribunal the President used an article of the constitution which has to do with the removal of Judges from office. The article is very explicit and leaves no room for any doubt. It deals with  the removal of Judges. In this case Judge Musonda has removed himself from office.

Using the very words the Attorney General used, Judge Musonda had pre-empted the Tribunal.

What circumstances have forced the Attorney General  reversal and above all what  discretion does a Malawian Judge have to look and interpret the meaning of the Zambian constitution in respect of Article 98(3). None at all.

It is such suggestions as the one made by the Attorney General which reinforce the notion that the entire  Tribunal exercise is driven  by those who  have failed to pay back the  K18billion they obtained by  fraudulent misrepresentation from the Development Bank of Zambia.

Last week we reported a case where some litigants have complained about the manner in which their cases landed before Judge Albert Wood through the instructions of the Acting Chief Justice. They have argued that under the current code of conduct the matter should not have been removed without the recusal or otherwise of the presiding judge.

If movement of files was such a serious offence, a Tribunal should have been constituted to investigate both the Acting Chief Justice and Judge Albert Wood.

It is however common knowledge that this will not happen because the Chikopa Tribunal has a special mission.