ATTEMPTS by embattled Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito to scandalize and boycott the Annel Silungwe will not help him escape from being investigated for his alleged abuse of authority of office and incompetence, National Restoration Party (NAREP) president Elias Chipimo has said.
Mr Chipimo said President Lungu constituted the tribunal to investigate alleged professional misconduct by Mr Nchito and that it would be a course of irresponsibility on the part of the suspended DPP if he chose the path of boycotting its proceedings because the hearing would continue even in his absence.
Mr Chipimo said it was not for Mr Nchito to demand the resignation of some of the members of the tribunal on account of not liking them or unfounded fears of partiality because the tribunal members had been sworn in and had already commenced executing their mandate.
He told the Daily Nation that Mr Nchito would be sending the wrong message as an officer of the court by walking out of the tribunal because of unfounded fears of biasness by some members of the tribunal he had had brushes with.
He said Mr Nchito had the right to go court if he did not like the composition of the tribunal instead of embarking on a course of scandalizing individual members of the tribunal with the aim of frustrating its proceedings so that it could fail to execute its mandate.
Mr Chipimo said boycotting the tribunal would not halt its proceedings and that the tribunal would receive evidence from the witnesses and make recommendations to the appointing authority.
“Mutembo Nchito has been given the opportunity to be heard and scandalizing and boycotting the tribunal proceedings will not help him exonerate himself from the many allegations he is facing. As an officer of the court, he will be sending the wrong message and the tribunal will continue with its proceedings if he chooses not to be heard. It will be an irresponsible course of action for Mr Nchito to walk out of the tribunal. The tribunal must be allowed to fully execute its mandate and if Mr Nchito will not be happy with the outcome, he reserves the right to challenge the recommendations in the courts of law,” Mr Chipimo said.
Mr Chipimo said suggestions that the tribunal should be suspended so that Mr Nchito should be dragged to court and only be brought after he has been tried and convicted by the court were legally not attainable because the DPP was still enjoying his immunity from prosecution on decisions he had made.
He said no one can take the DPP to court to challenge him on decisions had been making in his course of duties and that the tribunal was the only course of removing him from office.
He explained that at the stage the tribunal had reached, its members would not be allowed to resign unless there was an extremely good and compelling reason; the proceedings would have to continue to its logical conclusion.
And some opposition parties have demanded that if Nchito remained bigheaded and obstinate the President should postpone the Tribunal and invoke Article 57 of the constitution that will allow the acting DPP to prefer criminal charges of abuse of authority as provided for under Article 139 (10) of the constitution.
“In court charges will be very clear and the process will be in the open as required by Nchito himself. At the end of the trial the tribunal will have an even easier task since all the evidence would have been heard.” Zambia Direct Democracy Movement official Mary Mvula has said.
“We cannot have one man hold the whole country to ransom because of ill conceived ideas, when the law is very clear.” She said.
And former transport and communications deputy minister Alfred Ndhlovu has said Mr Nchito would be arrested and prosecuted for criminal attempt to walk out of the tribunal proceedings in protest against former Chief Justices Mathew Ngulube and Ernest Sakala who are the members of the tribunal.
Mr Ndhlovu said Mr Nchito should know that the only person with immunity from prosecution was the President and that if the DPP was going to exhibit insolence and boycott the tribunal, he would easily be arrested and prosecuted.
He said the Annel Silungwe Tribunal was the best because it was being chaired by the country’s first black Zambian Chief Justice taking over from James John Skinner after independence.
Mr Ndhlovu said the Annel Silungwe Tribunal was the finest with members who succeeded each other as the country’s Chief Justices and it was unacceptable for Mr Nchito to discredit and scandalize the inquiry.
“Justices Silungwe, Ngulube and Sakala are the brains and we cannot have a burdened man like Mr Nchito cast aspersions on them.
And let him know that if he is going to attempt to walk away from the tribunal, he will have to be arrested and prosecuted.
He must know that the only person in the land enjoying immunity from prosecution is the President and Mr Nchito who had been the advocate of stripping former presidents of their immunity is not going to ecape jail,” Mr Ndhlovu said.