President Hakainde Hichilema has taken the decision to immediately remove High Court Judge Wilfred Muma from the bench, according to a statement issued by State House Chief Communications Specialist Clayson Hamasaka. The President’s action follows the recommendations put forth by the Judicial Complaints Commission’s report.
In exercising the powers bestowed upon him by Article 143 of the Constitution, President Hichilema has made the decision to drop Judge Muma from his judicial position. The statement, which was made available to the media, highlighted the President’s reliance on the findings of the Judicial Complaints Commission.
Judge Muma’s suspension in May was prompted by the recommendations made by the Judicial Complaints Commission. The suspension was based on allegations of willful failure to comply with the law and procedure in a past case when he served as Commissioner of Lands prior to becoming a judge.
Judge Muma has recently been embroiled in several high-profile cases involving allegations of misconduct. In one particular case, he was arrested for the alleged transfer of Zambia Army property in Lusaka to the Patriotic Front (PF) for use as party offices. This offense is said to have occurred between April and December 2018 during Judge Muma’s tenure as Commissioner of Lands. During the course of this case, Judge Muma caused a stir when he made an attempt to drown himself in the Zambezi River, although he was later found alive.
Furthermore, Judge Muma had been suspended from duty in April 2022 pending investigations into allegations of misconduct. The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) had filed a complaint accusing the judge of disregarding the law and exhibiting bias in a case involving LAZ and the Attorney General.
The suspension of Judge Muma had sparked controversy, with differing opinions on the matter. Some argued that it is necessary to ensure accountability and integrity in the judiciary, while others criticized it as an attack on the independence of the judiciary.