Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Musonda goes

By Namatama Mundia, Agness Changala Mwala Kalaluka
Tue 25 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata has accepted Philip Musonda's resignation as Supreme Court judge. Sources yesterday confirmed that President Sata wrote judge Musonda accepting his resignation. President Sata's decision was in response to judge Musonda's letter this month.

The sources could not, however, give details of the letter the President has written to judge Musonda. Judge Musonda resigned on June 4 and restated his position to resign in a letter addressed to President Sata on June 19.

And acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda said the Judiciary would miss judge Musonda's well researched contribution and support.
In a letter addressed to judge Musonda dated June 19, justice Chibesakunda acknowledged receipt of his letter of resignation from the office of judge of the Supreme Court.

"On behalf of the entire Judiciary and on my own behalf, I wish you God's blessings in your future endevours," read the letter.

Judge Musonda, who was scheduled to appear before a tribunal chaired by Malawian judge Lovemore Chikopa on June 28, stated that his resignation had completely curtained the tribunal's jurisdiction to proceed against him.

President Sata last year appointed a tribunal to probe alleged professional misconduct of judge Musonda and two High Court judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga after he suspended them.
The three judges challenged their suspensions.

But recently the Supreme Court ruled that President Sata did not breach the Constitution by suspending the three judges.

And when the tribunal decided to proceed, judges Mutuna and Kajimanga sought judicial review challenging the legality of the tribunal and obtained a stay of the proceedings against them pending determination of their case before Ndola High Court judge Mwiinde Siavwapa.
Judge Siavwapa will on July 5 rule whether to discharge the stay he granted the two judges or not following an application by Attorney General Mumba Malila.

And Dr Rodger Chongwe, State Counsel, says he does not agree with judge Musonda's argument that the tribunal set up to examine his alleged professional misconduct cannot proceed against him following his resignation.

Commenting on judge Musonda's claims that he was no longer obliged to answer before the tribunal set up to probe his alleged misconduct since he had resigned, Dr Chongwe said it was apparent that for some reason, judge Musonda was depriving himself of an availed opportunity to clear his name.

"He claims that Article 137 of the Constitution supports this claim. I hold a contrary view," Dr Chongwe said. "Returning to the claim that judge Musonda, having resigned, his behaviour as a judge cannot be examined by the tribunal set up to do so. Very often, common sense is overlooked as being a large part of our judicial process. It is apparent that for some reason, judge Musonda does not wish to avail himself of the opportunity to clear his name."

Dr Chongwe said he would not want to judge justice Musonda before the tribunal does and as such he would not make any comment on the actual claims against him, but it was a fact that failure to speak in one's defence leads to inferences being reached.

"Some of the reports published in the media prior to the appointment of the tribunal are very worrying for anyone concerned with the administration of justice in Zambia and it is necessary that these are brought to the tribunal and that the witnesses be heard. Put simply, the public still has the right to know," he said.

"Our Constitution states that Zambia is a multi-party state and the President who has the constitutional right to appoint the tribunal to investigate judges also has the constitutional obligation to maintain the multi-party nature of our democracy. The Constitution also dictates who can and cannot become judges and other law officers and the procedures attached to such appointments by any President of Zambia."

Dr Chongwe said the case involving the three judges was one of alleged misconduct in the course of their work as judges.


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