JOINT STATEMENT BY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS ON ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SOME JUDGES IN THE SAVENDA Vs. STANBIC BANK CASE AT A PRESS CONFERENCE HELD AT THE FOUR PILLARS LODGE, LUSAKA MONDAY 11TH JUNE 2018
LEADERS OF THE VARIOUS NGOS REPRESENTED,
FRIENDS FROM THE PRESS,
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,
May I begin by thanking you all, especially you our colleagues from the media for honouring our invitation to attend this very important press conference.
We have called this press conference in view of the serious allegations that have been reported about the conduct of some Supreme Court Judges in the matter of Savenda Vs. Stanbic Bank Zambia. You will note our interest in this matter that as the National Empowerment Forum (NEF), we were created to among other things champion the empowerment of local enterprises.
Our vision is to promote the empowerment of Zambian owned businesses that can generate wealth for the country and create the much needed employment opportunities for the youths. It is against this background that we have in this consortium, youths that are equally adding their voices. Today, our youths are unable to get employment opportunities because the country has basically exported these opportunities in the name of foreign investment.
It is our duty as an organisation to defend and promote local entrepreneurs who are trying hard under very difficult conditions to contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
As NEF, we have taken keen interest in the recent Supreme Court judgement involving one local enterprise.
As you may be aware the Supreme Court overturned a decision by the High Court that had ordered that Stanbic Bank pays Savenda K192.5 million. In September 2016, High Court Judge, Justin Chashi ordered Stanbic Bank to pay Savenda K192.5 million for loss of business and vital contracts after Stanbic wrongly and negligently reported Savenda to the Credit Reference Bureau for defaulting on instalments. Stanbic appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals which decided that the damage suffered by Savenda was only nominal.
In March 2018, three Supreme Court Judges, Nigel Mutuna, Michael Musonda and Evans Hamaundu dismissed the appeal by Savenda. The Judges did not only dismiss the appeal but also ordered Savenda to pay Stanbic costs for all expenses the bank incurred from the High Court to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said Savenda did not suffer even nominal damages and that Stanbic did not breach any of its duties to Savenda.
While we respect the Judgement of the Supreme Court, we are concerned about the recent reports suggesting impropriate against the Honourable men on the bench.
As a consortium, we are deeply saddened at these media reports as they speak to the country’s justice system. It is in the interest of the Judges and indeed the judiciary to ensure that they come clean against these allegations that have been raised and are playing out in the public.
We do not want to delve into the substantive allegations; however we challenge the Chief Justice Madam IREEN MAMBILIMA to save the Judiciary from an impending embarrassment.
In view of the serious allegations that have been raised against some named Judges, we demand the following;
1. That President Edgar Lungu immediately suspends the named Judges to pave way for the setting up of a Tribunal to investigate the serious allegations.
2. The Chief Justice to immediately constitute a Tribunal to probe the named judges without any further delay.
Any imputation of impropriate, especially corruption has the potential to seriously undermine the credibility of the Judiciary. Zambians have reposed their faith and trust in the Courts to resolve any conflicts and differences, and thus must always be above board. It is only fair that the named Judges should be given the opportunity to defend themselves in the face of the allegations so that this very important arm of Government can maintain its integrity.
We also appeal to the Judges themselves to do the right thing by stepping down to allow for a full investigation.
The Judiciary cannot afford to bury its head in the sand against the damming allegations that have been made against the Judges.
NEF and the consortium members will be writing to President Edgar Lungu to suspend the Judges in accordance with the Constitution so that a Tribunal is set up to probe the named Judges so that they are cleared of the allegations.
As an organisation we will also be writing to the Chief Justice to set up a Tribunal.
I thank you and God bless Zambia!
For/On Behalf of