Whether or not President Michael Sata speaks on the matter is now immaterial. Zambians will hold him accountable.
The full bench of the Supreme Court has spoken and so has civil society.
The Judges may not have been as colorful but civil society has labeled the “Chikopa” Tribunal; a fraud which should not blemish the illustrious legal history of this country.
It is a fraud because of the surreptitious nature of its origins. Nobody approaches the President directly to protest about matters brought in court. Ordinary people either appeal findings of the court or indeed proceed to the Judicial Complaints Authority to lodge their complaints.
Only the well connected can afford the opportunity of direct access to the President, in an act that is discriminatory and at worst an abuse of authority.
President Sata must know that people are getting angry and very angry at that for the reckless abuse of public funds on frivolities which this Tribunal represents.
While Zambians are mourning over subsidy removals it is incomprehensible that the same Government should now spend more than a Billion on a Tribunal that is intended to determine how files belonging to a delinquent group of debtors moved.
There is absolutely no merit in the Tribunal, none at all.
We can not have a whole Malawian Judge presiding over the movement of cases files from one judge to another.
We have all seen the notice setting out the charges leveled against the three Judges and it is clear that the issues involved are administrative.
We entirely agree with the Supreme Court which has ruled that the Tribunal should not take place, but that instead other avenues for resolving the problem should be found. In our view the highest avenue is the JCA, which is a legally mandated body appointed by the President to look into complaints about the Judiciary.
President Sata will not be able to defend himself against charges that he has chosen to protect delinquent debtors because of the favours accorded him on his way to winning the last elections.
Those handling the President in this matter must know that people are angry, very angry because this matter is not about the law, it is about morality. The Presidency should not have been put in a position where it compromises with acts that are barely legal.
There are many Zambians whose cases have been moved from one judge to another without the litigants taking issue with the administrative procedures involved. Indeed ordinarily litigants have no preference over judges because they hold implicit confidence in the fairness and integrity of the judiciary.
What this Tribunal is suggesting is that such trust and confidence is misplaced, that in fact the outcome of cases does not depend on the facts and evidence adduced but on the judge involved.
This is very sad and indeed requires the JCA to investigate.
We do not agree that article 98 and 91 both provide avenues for aggrieved litigants. Article 98 is punitive as can be seen by the allegations that have been leveled against the judges, who have been found culpable even before the case is heard.
The hearing, as the case was in the infamous case of Mukelabai Mukelabai will be a perfunctory formality with little meaning or consequence.