By Peter Sinkamba
The DIrector of Public Prosecution (DPP) Lillian Fulata Shawa Siyuni SC is in an unprecedented dilemma with only two options where either she resigns or she enters nolles in all cases before her brought by either the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) or the Anti-Corruption Commission, where arrests were made without receiving instructions to arrest from her.
This is so because the letter that is in the public domain to the DEC Commissioner-General Mary Chirwa, which Ms Siyuni has not disclaimed, rebukes Ms Chirwa for carrying out an arrest of former KCM Provisional Liquidator Milingo Lungu without instructions to arrest from her. The Constitutional implication of this directive from the DPP is that no person should be arrested and docket brought before her for the prosecution of corruption and money laundering matters, if she has not given arrest instructions on those matters.
If she prosecutes other matters where no arrest instructions were issued by her, then she will not only be biased but also discriminatory, and thereby unconstitutional and illegal, pursuant to Article 23(2) of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment 1996 and Article 1(2) of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment 2016.
Although Article 180(7) of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment 2016 provides that the DPP shall not be subject to the direction or control of a person or an authority in the performance of the functions of that office, however, this privilege is not absolute. There are four limitations enshrined in this Article. First, the DPP should not exercise powers in a manner that is inimical to the public interest. Second, the DPP should not undermine the administration of justice. Third, the DPP should not undermine the integrity of the judicial system. And fourth, the DPP should prevent and avoid abuse of the legal process.
Article 180(4) of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment 2016, which provides for powers of the DPP, does not give powers to DPP to issue arrest instructions to any law enforcement officer. Therefore, the letter by the DPP to the DEC Director-General is not only inimical to the public interest but also undermines the administration of justice, and integrity of the judicial system, and is an abuse of the legal process.
Essentially, natural justice requires that a person receives a fair and unbiased hearing before a decision is made that will negatively affect them. The three main requirements of natural justice, that must be met in every case are adequate notice, fair hearing and no bias.
Therefore, based on the three main requirements of natural justice, there is a second dilemma that the DPP is confronted with concerning the Milingo case and all other cases from DEC. Now that the DEC has re-arrested Milingo, and meanwhile, there is a direct confrontation between the DPP and the DEC Director-General, considering the confrontation in the hindsight, will the DPP prosecute the Milingo case without bias? Or indeed, will the DPP prosecute all other cases from the DEC without bias?
Articles 180(2) and 182(3) of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment 2016, provided that the conditions that apply to a judge apply also to the DPP. Implicitly, by Article 266 of the Constitution of Zambia 2016, the DPP is a judicial authority, and thereby amenable to the Judicial Code of Act of Zambia.
Thus, the third dilemma confronting the DPP concerns law requirement for judges to recuse themselves if their impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
Section 4 (1) of the Judicial Code of Conduct requires that a judge or other judicial officer shall not discriminate in the performance of their duties of that office. They are required to perform their duties without bias or prejudice and should not, in the performance of adjudicative duties, by word or conduct, manifest bias, discrimination or prejudice. They should also not permit any member of staff or any other person subject to that officer’s direction and control to discriminate or manifest bias or prejudice.
Section 6(2) of the said Act disqualifies a judge of judicial to adjudicate or take part in any consideration or discussion of any proceedings in which the officer’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned on the grounds that the officer has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party. Thus, where such impartiality may rise, the judge or judicial officer must recuse himself or herself, and the matter ought to be allocated to another judge or other person for adjudication.
The dilemma here is that there is only one DPP. If the DPP is conflicted, that is it! There no other alternative person authorized by the Constitution to perform functions of the DPP. So, what happens to the Milingo case and all other cases brought to her by DEC where she has not issued any arrest instructions, and in view of the direct confrontation between the DPP and DEC DG? Thus, will the DPP proceed to prosecute the cases even if she is conflicted in the manner described?
If she forces matters and proceeds to prosecute the Milingo case and all other DEC cases, two things are likely to happen: first, pursuant to Section4 (2) of the Judicial Code of Conduct, the magistrate who will handle the case may be dragged to the Judicial Complaints Commission for allowing the DPP to take part in proceedings before that magistrate, where the DPP has manifested, by word or conduct, bias, discrimination or prejudice contrary to the Constitution and the Judicial Code of Conduct.
Secondly, if the President is serious enough to defend the Constitution, he may invoke Article 181 to appoint another person to perform functions of the DPP in the Milingo case and all cases brought by the DEC because under the current circumstances, the DPP is unable to perform the functions of office with integrity and without bias or prejudice.
In my view, instead of complicating her life and future as explained above, I think it more honourable for her to voluntarily resign.
The Author is is President of the Green Party