More than three High Court Judges have recused themselves from hearing the case in which former President Rupiah Banda has challenged the removal of his immunity by the National Assembly.
An application lodged by his lawyers before the Lusaka High Court has shifted from one judge to another as they recused themselves after allocation by the Judge in charge.
As we went to press no judge had agreed to preside over the petition.
A source at the High Court revealed that most Judges were not prepared to expose themselves to the “cartel” which was behind the charges.
“The Judges know that these are political matters engineered by the Cartel which has connections with State House and has already claimed victims within the Judiciary in the person of one Supreme Court Judge and two High Judges who were suspended and are expected to appear before a Tribunal presided over by Malawian Judge Lovemore Chikopa.”
“The Judges know that they can not expect any protection from the Acting Chief Justice.” He said.
President Banda’s lawyers would like to challenge among other things the manner in which the investigations were instituted, the composition of the team and whether indeed a former President should be interrogated by a team of junior officers without the involvement of a committee of the National Assembly is the case with other matters considered by the house.
They also wish to question how the Speaker proceeded with the motion when he was aware that the matter was already before a court of law.
The main bone of contention is the manner and procedure in which the immunity has been dealt with.
They believe that in their “ambushing and war maneuvers” the executive made lethal shortcuts to procedures. They observe that the appointment of constitutional officers by the National Assembly is presided over by special Committees at the National assembly which then recommend to the rest of the house, for approval by a two thirds majority.
“Surely the removal of a President’s immunity should be met by the same rigorous standard to ensure that extraneous influences are not brought to bear on the National Assembly.”In his Television interview Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba said that the Patriotic Front had ambushed the opposition as a tactical maneuver in order to obtain the removal of President Banda’s immunity.
“This is not the way Government matters should be dealt with”. A lawyer said.
According to the lawyer the entire case against Mr. Banda including the question posed against him had been prepared by “interested” individuals who were keen on exacting political retribution against the former President.
The aim, they said, was to ensure that the President was not only locked up but that he was humiliated .