Sunday, May 12, 2013

Tribunal on judges must start sitting - Kabimba

By Roy Habaalu and Mwala Kalaluka
Sat 11 May 2013, 14:01 CAT

JUSTICE minister Wynter Kabimba says the tribunal to probe the professional misconduct of three suspended judges 'must start sitting'.

And Attorney General Mumba Malila says the state is set to proceed with the tribunal appointed by President Michael Sata to probe the conduct of the suspended judges following the Supreme Court's clear interpretation of the law.

The Supreme Court on Thursday said President Sata did not breach the Constitution when he appointed a tribunal to probe alleged professional misconduct of Supreme Court justice Philip Musonda and High Court justices Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga.

This effectively means that the three judges' suspension is in force until the tribunal concludes its work.

High Court judge Fulgence Chisanga had stayed the tribunal meant to probe alleged professional of the three judges.

Kabimba said now that the judgment had been handed down, there was nothing to stop the tribunal from sitting.

"As government we have been extremely patient awaiting this judgment and one fact about us is that we believe in the independence of the Judiciary because we let them make a decision in the interest of this country," he said.

"Unlike the previous government that attempted to intimidate and interfere in the operations of the Judiciary, we let the aggrieved parties to challenge the decision made by his excellency the President.
They went to court until now when the Supreme Court confirmed that President Michael Sata's decision was within the provisions of the Constitution of Zambia. As government we are extremely happy that the President's decision has been withheld by the Judiciary."

Kabimba said the Supreme Court's decision meant that, "All the three judges with effect from yesterday remain suspended until the tribunal concludes its sittings."

And Malila yesterday described the judgment as delightful.

"We are very delighted at the interpretation of the law by the Supreme Court. We are also happy that the Supreme Court has confirmed that the President acted within the law when he appointed the tribunal to investigate the three judges," said Malila who had appealed against judge Chisanga's decision to stay the tribunal proceedings.

"With this clear interpretation of the law by the Supreme Court, we are set to proceed with the hearing of the tribunal."

Asked when the tribunal hearing would commence, Malila said: "I think the position will become much clearer next week. As you know the Supreme Court also gave some gratuitous advice in the judgment saying that this tribunal hearing should not proceed because there are other ways of dealing with the issues."

He said that advice by the Supreme Court did not mean that the tribunal should not proceed.

"It is not in the province of judicial officers to give advice. It is not their mandate. It is not their role to give advice. Their role is to pass judgment, to make decisions and give orders and directions, which they Supreme Court gave," he said. "So we shall follow the decision that they made and proceed with the tribunal hearing. Come the coming week, we do expect that the public will be notified on how we are going to proceed."

Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda sat with deputy Acting Chief Justice Florence Mumba, justices Marvin Mwanamwambwa, Hildah Chibomba, Elizabeth Muyovwe, Gregory Phiri and Munyinda Wanki when she delivered the multi-paged majority judgment.

Justice Chibesakunda said President Sata acted within constitutional powers vested in him under Article 983 of the Constitution and that the appointment of a tribunal would accord the three judges an opportunity to be heard.

"We therefore find merit in the appeal," said justice Chibesakunda.
Justices Mwanamwambwa, Muyovwe and Chibomba, however, dismissed the state's appeal in their dissenting judgments, saying judge Chisanga did not misdirect herself on the matter and that any person who felt aggrieved by the exercise of executive power could challenge it through court action.

In May 2012, President Sata appointed a tribunal to investigate the alleged professional misconduct by the three judges but they sought judicial review, which judge Chisanga granted and ordered that the same acts as a stay of the tribunal.

Meanwhile, Kabimba said those joining the PF should fit into the party's values, norms, culture and practices of the PF.

Speaking during the opening of the PF political and civic education training programme in Shibuyunji, Kabimba who is PF secretary general, said party members should not allow outsiders to contaminate the ruling party's attractive values.

"The culture and norms of the party can only be found among yourselves. There is no more changa changa leadership. In 2016 we will be looking for candidates that have undergone this programme. These are the people we will give first priority because they would have understood their role," said Kabimba.



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