LAZ approves Judges’ Ban
THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) have welcomed President Michael Sata’s decision to suspend three judges and the setting up a tribunal to probe alleged misconduct.
President Sata on Monday suspended Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda, High Court Judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga.
A tribunal was immediately set up to investigate the judges’ conduct relating to the cases of Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) versus Post Newspapers Limited, JCN Holdings Limited and Mutembo Nchito and Finsbury Investment Limited versus Antonio Ventriglia and Manuela Sebastian Ventrilia.
LAZ president James Banda said the association supported President Sata’s decision and that the head of State possesses the power to proceed in the manner he has done.
Mr Banda said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that Article 98 of Constitution gives the President powers to set up a tribunal to investigate the conduct or misbehaviour of any judge.
“We, as an association did request for an inquiry surrounding the matters mentioned in the terms of reference for the tribunal set up by the President. It is not our intention to comment on the merits or lack thereof of the allegations against the Honourable judges. That is for the tribunal to determine,” said Mr Banda.
He said at annual general meeting (AGM) held on April 28, 2012 LAZ resolved that under the new Constitutional Order the judiciary should be reconstituted and that, pending the creation of the Order, other matters of concern identified by the public and raised by the LAZ should be addressed immediately.
Mr Banda said the matters include corruption, incompetence and undue delivery of justice and that the resolutions match with President Sata’s action to set up the tribunal.
LAZ expected the president to set up similar tribunals when the association or any other citizen of the country brought to his attention a credible allegation of misconduct on a part of a Judge.
He said LAZ had trust that the President, in setting up any tribunal would look at the complaint and not the complainant or the judges involved.
Mr Banda noted that the power to set up a tribunal should not at any time be used to hound or intimidate any judges who were perceived to be “anti-established.”
He said LAZ was, however, pleased that Mr Sata has committed himself to only use the power when clear grounds existed in accordance with the Constitution.
“As the President stated in his briefing to the Press, the fight against corruption must be all embracing and must be anchored on the basis of equality before the law,” he said.
TIZ executive director, Godwell Lungu said in a statement yesterday that the position taken by Mr Sata was not unique because even in Kenya four senior judges were found unfit to hold office.
“The position taken by the President is not unique as only a week ago on Wednesday, April 23, 2012, four senior Kenyan judges were found to be unfit to hold office, as declared by a board charged with vetting judicial officers.
“Among those sent home were the president of the Court of Appeal Riaga Omollo and Appellate judges Samuel Bosire, Emmanuel O’Kubasu and Joseph Nyamu,” Mr Lungu said.
He said the President was on firm ground and within the Constitution when he made the decision.
[Times of Zambia]