MAGISTRATES in Lusaka have resolved not to attend to any cases involving the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).
The boycott is as a result of a statement made by ACC director general Nixon Banda that magistrates were not competent to handle corruption cases.
The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) described the decision by the magistrates in Lusaka to boycott hearing cases from the ACC as unfortunate and called for immediate intervention.
The magistrates held a meeting to discuss statements attributed to Mr Banda on whether they should continue handling ACC cases or not. They concluded that they would only start handling ACC cases once the matter was soundly resolved.
This came to light when former Zambezi East member of Parliament (MP) Maxwell Mukwakwa appeared on charges of bribery.
Magistrate Sharon Newa informed both parties in court chambers yesterday when the matter came up for hearing that the magistrates had resolved not to handle cases of such nature and others relating to ACC and had been adjourned Sine die with liberty to restore.
LAZ president William Mweenba said in an interview yesterday that magistrates and the ACC should immediately call for a meeting and resolve their differences.
He said LAZ expected the magistrates to accept the apology made by the ACC director general who regretted publicly for having accused the court of lacking knowledge to preside over corruption cases.
Mr Mweemba reiterated that the ACC should have used the right to appeal to the High Court if it was not happy with the rulings from the subordinate courts.
He said magistrate courts were critical in the judicial system and the boycott by the magistrates should be resolved amicably.
In his statement, Mr Banda had stated that magistrates’ understanding of corruption was very low and that they were treating corruption cases like any matter.
The ACC chief said in Kitwe it was disappointing that despite overwhelming evidence and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP)’s confirmation, the magistrates threw the cases out of court.
Mukwakwa was accused of bribery after he allegedly gave a Post reporter, George Chellah, K350,000 last year.
Lawyers representing both parties said the matter should be resolved urgently because cases would pile up. They said a lot of cases were at the courts and new ones were coming in.
“We understand the matter at hand, but we pray that the matter is amicably resolved as soon as possible to reduce the workload already at hand, the delay would mean new cases delayed too,” they said.
On Wednesday, Mr Mweemba and High Court registrar Mwamba Chanda said the statement by the ACC was made in bad faith and warned that in future such attacks should be avoided.
The judiciary complained and described Mr Banda’s remarks as unfortunate, especially that it was made by a qualified lawyer.
Mr Banda has since apologised to the Chief Justice, members of the judiciary, especially the magistrates to whom the statement referred.
“ACC is committed to work together with the judiciary who are key stakeholders. I did not mean to undermine the integrity of the judiciary in any way,” he said.
Times of ZambiaÂ