Chikopa to appear in Ndola High court for contempt

Judge Lovemore Chikopa and his secretary Magaya Katunasa are expected to appear before Ndola High Court judge Mwiinde Siavwapa to answer to a charge of contempt of court and explain why they should not be sent to jail or suffer other sanctions for disobeying a lawful court order.

Lawyers representing judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga are preparing final papers for the committal of Chikopa and Katunasa for their disregarding of an order stopping their tribunal.

This follows judge Siavwapa’s decision to dismiss the defence against committal offered by the state saying that the absence of a penal notice; warning against disobedience of a lawful court order did not offer sufficient ground for a judge to ignore an order.

The judge therefore ordered that Chikopa should be cited for contempt of lawful court orders and must therefore appear.

And civil rights activist Brebner Changala has said the Chikopa tribunal must be disbanded with immediate effect because its chairman, Malawian Judge Lovemore Chikopa is a subject of a criminal trial.

And former United Party for National Development (UPND) special assistant to the president Edward Mumbi has said no Zambian Judge should appear before Judge Chikopa until the Malawian Judge clears himself of the contempt cases against him.

Mumbi said Judge Chikopa should respect Zambian courts by appearing before Judge Siavwapa stating that should the Malawian Judge attempt to run away back to his country, the Zambian courts should place him on the Interpol wanted list.

Changala said the ruling by Ndola High Court Mwiinde Siavwapa that Judge Chikopa had ignored the court order not to proceed with the tribunal had revealed a lot about the incompetence and lack of understanding of the judicial terrain by the Malawian Judge.

He told the Daily Nation in an interview yesterday that if Judge Chikopa was not going to be careful about how to handle the Zambian judicial system, he was most likely going to end up in a Zambian prison.

Changala said all signs and indication were that the tribunal was ill-conceived right from inception and could therefore not be legally sustained.

The civil rights activist said Judge Chikopa should return to his home in Malawi because there was a high probability that he could be jailed in Zambia for disregarding orders from Zambian courts.

Changala said it was clear that Judge Chikopa did not understand the legal and judicial system in Zambia and was therefore incompetent to preside over the tribunal investigating Supreme Court Judge Phillip Musonda and two High Court Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna.

“Judge Chikopa was invited by the Zambian government to preside over a tribunal that stands discredited. The ruling by Judge Siavwapa reveals a lot about the incompetence of the Malawian Judge. He does not understand the Zambian judiciary terrain and if he is not careful, he will end up in Zambian jail. His tribunal  has outlived its usefulness and should therefore be disbanded with immediate effect,” Changala said.

He wondered how a reasonable Judge could have ignored the court order and proceed with the sittings even when the courts had ordered against it.

“How can one explain the desire by Chikopa and his colleagues to proceed with the tribunal while the matter was being challenged in the courts?” If what Judge Siavwapa said about Judge Chikopa is anything to go by, then the Malawian Judge is in courtship with serious trouble. Changala wondered.

Changala said the Chikopa Tribunal was not serving Zambians’ interest adding the man had turned the tribunal into a gold mine.

And Mumbi said JudgeChikopa was a criminal suspect and that no honourable Zambian judge should lower himself and appear before him.

“No honourable Zambian judge should be subjected to appear before Judge Chikopa because he is facing criminal charges of contempt.  And Judge Chikopa should respect Zambian courts and appear before Judge Siavwapa. If he is going to fail to avail himself, the defence layers will have to report him to Interpol,” Mumbi said.

Mumbi said the Zambia judicial system was highly respected although there was a clique that had been working at destroying its reputation.