PRESIDENT Michael Sata has urged members of the tribunal established to probe alleged professional misconduct of three judges not to be intimidated as their assignment is backed by the Zambian Constitution.
Mr Sata said the Republican Constitution mandated them to carry out their work as members of the tribunal and that natural justice demanded that the accused should be heard.
He said at State House yesterday shortly after members of the tribunal took Oath of office that he had confidence in the team which he described as ‘upright’ in character.
“There is nothing new in what you are going to do and you should not be intimidated because the Constitution doesn’t know our tribes. The Constitution knows that you are all judges,” he said.
Those sworn-in were Judge Lovemore Chikopa from Malawi, who is the chairperson; justices Thomas Ndhlovu and Naboth Mwanza, both retired High Court judges of Zambia, and secretary of the tribunal, Chipili Katunasa.
He said currently, the Constitution facilitated for judges to head and conduct tribunal sittings and only when it would be amended to state that Supreme Court judges should be heard by retired Supreme Court judges, then that would be the practice.
“When you come and rewrite the Constitution to say you must look for former Supreme Court judges to inquire into former Supreme Court judges, then we shall do the same,” he said.
President Sata, on April 30 this year, suspended Supreme Court Judge, Philip Musonda, and two High Court judges, Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna and constituted a tribunal to investigate alleged corrupt activities in the judiciary. The judges would remain suspended pending recommendations of the tribunal.
According to the terms of reference on Mr Justice Mutuna, the tribunal would inquire into his conduct in relation to the manner in which he presided over hearing and determination of the case of Development Bank of Zambia versus THE POST Newspaper limited, JCN Holdings limited and Mutembo Nchito.
The tribunal would specifically inquire into charges that Mr Justice Mutuna misbehaved or acted incompetently when he proceeded to hear and determine the matter without a formal order transferring the matter from Mr Justice Albert Mark Wood before whom the matter had been heard.
It is alleged that Mr Justice Mutuna misbehaved or acted incompetently when he proceeded to hear and determine the matter in total disregard of evidence available to him that clearly demonstrated that Mr Justice Wood’s independence as a judge had been interfered with in the course of proceedings relating to the matter.
Mr Justice Mutuna allegedly misbehaved or could have acted incompetently in the circumstance of the matter when he proceeded to deliver judgment in a matter in which the plaintiff had expressly indicated that it no longer intended to proceed with the matter as a result of which it filed a notice of discontinuance.
On Mr Justice Musonda and Mr Justice Kajimanga, the tribunal would inquire into their relation in the matter in which they interfered in and illegally retrieved or caused the retrieval of cases of Development Bank of Zambia versus THE POST Newspaper Limited, JCN Holdings and Mutembo Nchito and Finsbury Investment Limited versus Antonio Vetriglia and Manuela Sebastiani Vetriglia, the matter from Mr Justice Wood.
Mr Justice Musonda and Mr Justice Kajimanga allegedly misbehaved or acted incompetently when whilst acting together, they conspired to pervert the course of justice by retrieving or causing the retrieval of records relating to matters from Mr Justice Wood during the due execution of his judicial functions as judge of the High Court of Zambia.
The tribunal is expected to give recommendations to President Sata within two months or such other period as the tribunal would reasonably recommend. And the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has said it expects the tribunal established to proceed expertly and expeditiously.
The association also expects the tribunal to exhibit fairness in its proceedings.? LAZ president, James Banda, said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that LAZ was expectant that the tribunal findings would be based only on evidence to be presented before it and the law applicable to the situation.?”We, thus, urge the public not to speculate or assume any impropriety or otherwise on the part of the honourable judges who we still hold in high esteem,” he said.
courtesy of http://www.times.co.zm
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