It is a constitutional illegality for Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to continue occupying the office of the Chief Justice in a acting capacity because Zambian Laws have disqualified her candidature for the office on the basis of her age, says Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) executive director Reverend Pukuta Mwanza.
Rev. Mwanza said that it was morally, politically and legally wrong for Justice Chibesakunda to cling on to the office when the people of Zambia including the Law Association of Zambia had questioned her continued stay at the helm of the judiciary.
He said that the law was very clear on who was eligible to occupy the office of Chief Justice, adding that the conduct of Justice Chibesakunda defeats the purpose of having laws in a country.
And the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president James Banda has said that Justice Chibesakunda will never be Chief Justice because she did not qualify under the current constitution.
Mr Banda said that the decision by the Parliamentary Select Committee to reject the recommendation for ratification for the appointment of Justice Lombe Chibesakunda as Chief Justice was final.
He said that it was also morally wrong for Justice Chibesakunda to continue acting as Chief Justice despite her rejection by the Parliamentary Select Committee.
This is contrary to the argument by Patriotic Front (PF) Secretary General Wynter Kabimba who is also Justice Minister that the select committee had no powers to make a final decision over the appointment of acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda.
But Mr. Banda said that in terms of Article 44 of the Constitution, the President
was still entitled to nominate another person to appear before a select committee before the ratification could take place.
He said that it would be unconstitutional for President Michael Sata to make another attempt to re-nominate the same name of Justice Chi
besakunda for the vacant position of Chief Justice as she did not qualify and had been rejected before.
In supporting the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ)’s stance on the matter, EFZ said that it was only correct for Ms. Chibesakunda to step aside and bury the controversy that questioned her integrity and that of the office of the Chief Justice.
“One wonders why she insists on holding on to that office when she knows that she is an illegality in the first place. Let her save her face and the image of the institution she was serving because the perception the people of Zambia have is that she is highly compromised by those in leadership,” said Rev Mwanza.
Rev Mwanza said that the church was saddened by the ‘I don’t care attitude’ exhibited by Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda against calls demanding that she steps down because she was unconstitutionally occupying the office.
“We have been following the matter with keen interest and it saddens us to see that nothing was being down on her part to take the legal provisions seriously. We feel that there is an external hand pushing her illegal stay in office which is unconstitutional,” he said.