Thursday, June 13, 2024

President is not liable for breaches arising from unwritten instructions – the Constitutional Court has ruled.


The Constitutional Court of Zambia has ruled the President is not liable for acts which are not done under written instruction signed by the President.

The Court has since cleared President Hakainde Hichilema against allegations that he violated the Constitution when he disclosed during a media briefing at State House that he summoned the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Director General to discuss cases and explain why certain cases were not in court and assured the nation that the cases would be reinstated in courts.

In the case in which governance activist Isaac Mwanza had sued the Attorney General, the Court stated that the direction of the President has no force of law unless it is reduced in writing and is signed by the President in accordance with Article 93(1) of the Constitution.

The panel of five Judges also stated that statements by the President cannot be elevated to the status of instructions in the absence of written instruction.

A lawyer for Mwanza had argued that unconstitutional or illegal instructions by the President are rarely issued pursuant to Article 93(1) of the Constitution.

Following pronouncements by the President at the Press Briefings in April, 2022 that cases which were closed would be reinstated in courts, some cases involving former KCM Liquidator Milingo Lungu and former Minister Ronaldo Chitotela were reinstated in courts.

The Court has also cleared Justice Minister Mulambo Haimbe of any alleged breaches when he said former DPP Lillian Siyuni misconduct herself and asked the Judicial Complaints Commission to speed the process of hearing cases on her removal.

This Judgment now mean present and former Presidents cannot be held accountable for acts they allegedly do or were allegedly done while in office if the same are carried out without written instructions that are personally signed by the President.


  1. If I comment on court case, I will be cited for contempt. The fact that the man said something about cases is enough to be perceived as having influenced the outcome of a given case. This parlance by the judges is not enough to convince me at all.
    We still have the Kabushi and Kwacha fiasco which is a result of his interference.

  2. These kutump@ laws should be translated in our own languages so that people can understand them better. 2H will use this science to manipulate and consolidate absolute power. This is how the likes of our friend Idi Amin were created. Soon he will be advocating to close parliament.

  3. So he can order the arrest and imprisonment of someone and he won’t be answerable as long as he it’s not in writing and he has not signed it?

    • So what will happen is that whoever executes the President’s verbal instructions or unwritten orders would have committed an offense. Let’s see how things go. Otherwise our Judiciary is a mockery

  4. Our Concourt continues to disappoint. If the president has a public event, he complains about the police not arresting someone on public TV, police arrest the person the next day, president has not given instructions? We saw this with Chitotela’s re arrest and revocation of immunity from prosecution when the President complained on his first press conference.
    Secondly, if the president makes private meetings to instruct certain people, he can never be prosecuted? Are we reducing the president’s job to only paper instructions? We might as well have a mute president.

  5. It’s a stitch-up of a judgment. Effectively it means unwritten instructions ought not to be acted upon. Why didn’t the court go that far if it wants to help the country to make progress? Phone communication is no communication according to the Constitutional Court. It’s piffle. I think it’s because of the impossibility of summoning a sitting president to court to testify during trial.

  6. “This Judgment now mean present and former Presidents cannot be held accountable for acts they allegedly do or were allegedly done while in office if the same are carried out without written instructions that are personally signed by the President”
    If a president abused his office and was involved in the direction corrupt activities as was the case under ECL, his immunity can be removed and will face trial.

  7. The law has been clarified. Now it will be difficult for the President and former President to be held responsible for unwritten instructions they could have given while in office.

  8. HH in opposition was such a brilliant person…as a President he has become a charlatan…HH is a fraud and very corrupt…corruption,theft,hunger is on the rise under Charlatan President HH

  9. Good morning Mr constitution. How are you? Are you healthy? Some people may be thinking of taking you for medical attention.

  10. These are kangaroo court clarifications !!
    To you Ministers, if you are told via the media by the President to act, you will ignore it unless you get written and signed instructions.

  11. So because Lungu just told his ministers to steal but since he didn’t put it in writing so he can’t be held liable. But what about the person who stole under instructions and now claiming he was just following orders? He is in hot soup.

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