A consortium of civil organisations has challenged the the Judicial ComplaintAuthority JCA to probe the Supreme court’s morality, legality and propriety of presiding over the Dora Siliya appeal case which the court has been accused of originating.
“This is a very clear case of conflict of interest. We were told the Supreme Court was responsible for the statement and letters to the Electoral Commission of Zambia, which stopped the nomination of the three candidates, how can they now preside over a High Court determination which overruled them?” a spokesman said.
The consortium has written to the Judicial Complaints Authority (JCA) asking for a comprehensive investigation to determine the coincidence in the pronouncement by Patriotic Front Secretary General Wynter Kabimba on the matter, the statement issued by the Judiciary in the night, the report in a newspaper and the subsequent letter by the Registrar of the High Court- all of which suggested that a decision had been taken to bar the three candidates.
“The Supreme Court has been cited as being responsible for the letter and statements which were described as being without legal force by the Registrar of the High Court who authored them, how then can the Supreme Court attempt to preside over the matter?” they asked.
And the Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) has written the JCA to lodge a formal complaint and seek an urgent investigation into the manner in which “The Chief Justice Her Ladyship Lombe Chibesakunda assigned a non-Judicial Officer, the Judiciary public relations officer Mulenga, to issue a statement on behalf of the Judiciary on the eve of nomination for three ‘contentious’ constitutuencies of Malambo, Petauke Central and Mulobezi in line with sentiments and pronouncements expressed by the Minister of Justice and Patriotic Front secretary general Wynter Kabimba.”
The same statement, they said, was re-affirmed by a letter to the Electoral Commission of Zambia by the Registrar Justice Phiri, who repeated the same allusion to the barring of the three candidates.
“The coincidence of these events is uncanny- and must be subjected to investigation because it has now transpired that, contrary to assertions in the media the letter and statements had no legal effect, instead, the statement had the very serious potential of plunging the country into violent conflict as the various parties concerned objected to the interpretation of the statement.” They said.
This investigation, they added, was all the more important considering that subsequent events have indicated that there was no urgency to the statement, which raised tremendous confusion and anger among the populace.
“Was the Chief Justice in order to authorise the issuance of a statement that was clearly partisan, intended to favour the ruling Patriotic Front, whose secretary general, the Minister of Justice had inferred the barring of opposition candidates from filing their nominations?” they asked.
And it has since come to our attention that in a story in the Friday edition we erroneously said Judge Chibesakunda granted Mumba Malila a stay to stop Dora Siliya et al from filing in nominations. The judge in the matter was deputy Chief Justice Florence Mumba.