That our judiciary is in a shambles is an understatement.
On one hand we have an acrimonious debate between the executive and the Law Association of Zambia over the position of Chief Justice, on the other hand Malawian Judge Lovemore Chikopa has totally ignored the advice of the highest court in our country and has gone ahead to preside over the Tribunal.
In the absence of all the three Judges the Malawian has started to hear evidence, in spite of the fact that two High Court Judges, in Ndola and Lusaka, are yet to hear the Judicial Review applications that are scheduled in the course of the month.
These High courts will consider the legality and propriety of the Tribunal.
And it is already clear from initial evidence given by Justice Wood that political issues have arisen in a forum where the judges cannot defend themselves and whose case will be prejudiced severely by the proceedings of the Tribunal.
This is not justice. We believe that if the Judiciary was not in its current shambles this scandal and debacle would not be taking place.
The Judiciary need a leadership that would have stood up against this travesty which is taking place because some people who have stolen public funds by fraudulent misrepresentation are exacting retribution on officers who have observed the law in demanding that they pay back the money.
The entire judiciary is being sacrificed for this cause.
With proper leadership due cognizance would have been given to proceedings that are currently before the two high courts concerning the legality and propriety of the Tribunal.
As we have said before, it is not good enough to cite technical of legal excuses to proceed with a Tribunal that has been widely questioned. The issue of morality must also be considered. Not everything legal is moral or indeed ethical.
The haste with which Judge Chikopa intends to rush through the Tribunal raises many troubling questions.
For all we know one or both High Courts may very well agree with the Supreme Court that valid constitutional issues raised by the Judges were legally tenable. This would render the entire Tribunal null, void and illegal.
Already one of our illustrious and prominent lawyers Elias Chipimo who is also President of the National Restoration Party has suggested that the Tribunal would remain illegal until all constitutional and legal issues raised by the three judges were dealt with.
It is a matter of record that the last Tribunal was instituted by President Levy Mwanawasa to investigate late Director of Public Prosecution Mukelabai over allegations made by the same people featuring in this new Tribunal.
At the end of the day the Tribunal found as a fact that the vile allegations against Mukelabai were not only contrived but that there was no basis upon which the Tribunal was established in the first place. Ironically the tribunal recommended the retirement of Mukelabai.
The parallels between the Mukelabai Tribunal and the Chikopa one are uncanny.
Apart from the major players being the same, the setting and circumstances appear to be the same. The proceedings are not about the veracity or substance of allegations raised but more about the amount of damage that will be inflicted on the individuals against whom charges have been brought. It is the collateral, rather than substantive damage that is aimed at.
Of all the people Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda who presided over the Mukelabai Tribunal will understand the modus operandi of those he is dealing with. They are cold callous and heartless.
The only saving grace is that, might may be right but ultimately justice will triumph. A time will come when the Judiciary will rise and assert itself as the rightful custodian of the law and justice.