Disband Chikopa tribunal

The Chikopa Tribunal should be disbanded forthwith.

The fact that President Michael Sata has been able to appoint two separate Tribunals chaired by senior Zambian judges to investigate High Court Judges Emelia Sunkutu and Timothy Katanekwa under the established laws proves the point that the system works; there was therefore no need for those owing the Development Bank K18billion to subvert the system, by importing a judge under questionable circumstances.

Those who forced the President to constitute the Chikopa tribunal  because they were afraid of paying back the money they owe the people of Zambia should be made to follow the law.

We cannot have two contradictory tracks of complaints, one for the Presidents friends who have the dubious luxury of a foreign judge and for the rest who are investigated by local judges. This is neither correct, just, fair nor equitable.

The point has been made, the Judicial Complaints Authority works, nobody then should make the President subvert an authority which his office has established. The officers serving under the JCA were appointed by President Sata, he must therefore trust their judgment.

Indeed the President should not be made to make decisions which erode his status and credibility by appearing to be partial and working in league with individuals that have broken the law.

The is for any aggrieved person to lay a formal complaint with the Judicial Complaints Authority instead of placing President Sata in the very invidious and untenable position of having his decisions questioned in courts of law, as the case has turned out to be.

Disbanding the Chikopa Tribunal will not be a sign of weakness; it will instead be a sign of strength. It will show that the President is prepared to admit mistakes and allow for the due process of law to take its course.

State House is not a complaints authority and those who share a friendship with the President should not abuse the trust by placing him in situations and circumstances where he    appears to be abetting crime.

We have laws and competent people to enforce them.

The tribunal to probe Justice Sunkutu will be headed by former Chief Justice Mathew Ngulube a man who has had a fair share of his own personal tribulation at the hand of the notorious and evil cartel, while the tribunal to probe Justice Katanekwa will be headed by Justice Frederick Chomba a man with a long distinguished career.

We are sure that the judges under investigation feel confident that their cases will be heard by impartial and competent arbiters.

This is the confidence that is lacking in the Chikopa Tribunal.

For a start the Chikopa Tribunal was initiated by people who owe the Zambian people more than K18million in a loan transaction from which they wish to renege on technical grounds, in spite of the fact that High Court Judge Nigel Mutuna found that the money had been obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation- shorthand of theft.

It is very important in law and matters concerning the dispensation of justice that there is consistency and reasonable predictability.

For a start the Judges presiding a very senior people. Judge Chikopa is not. He is actually junior to Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda; this alone should disqualify him from the exercise.

Secondly the two senior judges are well known to the Zambian people. Little is known about Judge Chikopa apart from the fact that President Michael Sata may have had some contact with the Legal officials in Malawi following his brush with the law in that country which forced him to hire lawyers to represent him.

In many respects this disqualifies Judge Chikopa because appointments to Tribunals should not be based on the President’s personal experience and preference; it must be impersonal and based purely on the recommendation of the legal fraternity, a recommendation which the people at large will accept.

We would have expected the President to seek the assistance of the Commonwealth rather than rely on individuals who are considered to be his friends and therefore people who will do his bidding or the bidding of his friends.

Secondly the two judges are Zambians who have proved themselves. From what we know Judge Chikopa has done nothing to distinguish himself in the Malawian  legal fraternity.

Therefore it is only proper that he goes back.



Categorized | Editorial

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