Chikopa tribunal challenge thrown in further limbo

The judicial review application by Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna, challenging the Constitutionality of Judge Lovemore Chikopa tribunal has been thrown in total limbo after Ndola High Court Judge Timothy Katenekwa to whom the matter was assigned yesterday recused himself from presiding over the matter.

Judge Katenekwa, who is a friend of Fred M’membe, the Post Newspaper owner and one of the principal drivers of the Chikopa tribunal declined to preside over the case yesterday when the matter came up in his court in Ndola. The judge feared to be misunderstood.

Lawyers representing the two judges travelled to Ndola yesterday in the hope of having the matter heard by Judge Katenekwa.

And attempts to have the matter re-allocated to another judge in Ndola failed as they were all reported to be busy. It is now expected that the matter will come back to Lusaka for re-allocation by Judge in-charge Jane Kabuka, although it is not clear why judges in Lusaka were not prepared to preside over the matter.

According to judicial sources, there is apprehension among the judges as they feel frustrated that the executive has exerted too much pressure and influence on the judiciary in the manner the Chikopa tribunal was established and was being conducted.

The Judges, according to judicial sources are not comfortable with the unfolding events in the judiciary considering that the Supreme Court advised the executive against proceeding with the tribunal because of constitutional matters that were raised in the ruling.

“We have never had a crisis in the judiciary like the one we are facing presently. There is so much mistrust, hostility and acrimony because it is now clear the executive has a direct hand through the Supreme Court ruling in the affairs of the judiciary. The Judges do not feel protected any more as they can be targeted and are therefore no longer willing to handle the matter for fear of being exposed to President Michael Sata’s friends,” the source told the Daily Nation.

According to the present arrangement, the tribunal is supposed to start sitting on June 18th, 2013 but with the prevailing circumstances, it is not clear if the judicial review applied by the two judges would be heard before then.

Judges Kajimanga and Mutuna have applied for judicial review because they feel they were not given enough time to prepare themselves and that the applicants in the matter were not known.

Last month, Four High Court judges recused themselves from ruling on former President Rupiah Banda’s petition alleging that it was unlawful for Parliament to remove the immunity of the former Head of State.

The recusal of the four judges in Mr Banda’s petition against the removal of his immunity from prosecution prompted speculations that the Patriotic Front (PF) was creating fear and intimidation among the judges in a case that was believed to be highly politically motivated.

The case was first taken to the High Court by former President Banda’s lawyers where they argued that Speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Matibini violated parliamentary protocol by fast-forward the immunity motion despite a pending injunction before court. Speaker Matibini allowed the motion to be debated and voted for even after all but two opposition Members of Parliament staged a walkout in protest against the Speaker’s action and failing to secure a two third majority vote of the total seats of parliament.

The matter was first allocated to Judge Anne Sitali but she recused herself for unknown reasons forcing Lusaka High Court judge in-charge Jane Kabuka to re-allocated the case to Judge Nicola Phiri, who also recused herself before it was re-allocated to Judge Mubanga Kondolo who has since recused himself.

The four judges have communicated their recusal to Judge Kabuka through memos.

Yesterday, Judge Kabuka re-allocated the matter for the fourth time in three days to Judge Dominic Sichinga, who has also recused himself.

The judicial review application by Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna, challenging the Constitutionality of Judge Lovemore Chikopa tribunal has been thrown in total limbo after Ndola High Court Judge Timothy Katenekwa to whom the matter was assigned yesterday recused himself from presiding over the matter.

Judge Katenekwa, who is a friend of Fred M’membe, the Post Newspaper owner and one of the principal drivers of the Chikopa tribunal declined to preside over the case yesterday when the matter came up in his court in Ndola. The judge feared to be misunderstood.

Lawyers representing the two judges travelled to Ndola yesterday in the hope of having the matter heard by Judge Katenekwa.

And attempts to have the matter re-allocated to another judge in Ndola failed as they were all reported to be busy. It is now expected that the matter will come back to Lusaka for re-allocation by Judge in-charge Jane Kabuka, although it is not clear why judges in Lusaka were not prepared to preside over the matter.

According to judicial sources, there is apprehension among the judges as they feel frustrated that the executive has exerted too much pressure and influence on the judiciary in the manner the Chikopa tribunal was established and was being conducted.

The Judges, according to judicial sources are not comfortable with the unfolding events in the judiciary considering that the Supreme Court advised the executive against proceeding with the tribunal because of constitutional matters that were raised in the ruling.

“We have never had a crisis in the judiciary like the one we are facing presently. There is so much mistrust, hostility and acrimony because it is now clear the executive has a direct hand through the Supreme Court ruling in the affairs of the judiciary. The Judges do not feel protected any more as they can be targeted and are therefore no longer willing to handle the matter for fear of being exposed to President Michael Sata’s friends,” the source told the Daily Nation.

According to the present arrangement, the tribunal is supposed to start sitting on June 18th, 2013 but with the prevailing circumstances, it is not clear if the judicial review applied by the two judges would be heard before then.

Judges Kajimanga and Mutuna have applied for judicial review because they feel they were not given enough time to prepare themselves and that the applicants in the matter were not known.

Last month, Four High Court judges recused themselves from ruling on former President Rupiah Banda’s petition alleging that it was unlawful for Parliament to remove the immunity of the former Head of State.

The recusal of the four judges in Mr Banda’s petition against the removal of his immunity from prosecution prompted speculations that the Patriotic Front (PF) was creating fear and intimidation among the judges in a case that was believed to be highly politically motivated.

The case was first taken to the High Court by former President Banda’s lawyers where they argued that Speaker of the National Assembly, Patrick Matibini violated parliamentary protocol by fast-forward the immunity motion despite a pending injunction before court. Speaker Matibini allowed the motion to be debated and voted for even after all but two opposition Members of Parliament staged a walkout in protest against the Speaker’s action and failing to secure a two third majority vote of the total seats of parliament.

The matter was first allocated to Judge Anne Sitali but she recused herself for unknown reasons forcing Lusaka High Court judge in-charge Jane Kabuka to re-allocated the case to Judge Nicola Phiri, who also recused herself before it was re-allocated to Judge Mubanga Kondolo who has since recused himself.

The four judges have communicated their recusal to Judge Kabuka through memos.

Yesterday, Judge Kabuka re-allocated the matter for the fourth time in three days to Judge Dominic Sichinga, who has also recused himself.

Categorized | Home News

2 Responses to “Chikopa tribunal challenge thrown in further limbo”

  1. FuManchu says:

    This is a novel way of protesting by the judges

  2. fafa says:

    This is like watching tom and jerry,wat kind of judicial system is this?

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