In an unprecedented move in the history of Zambia, lawyers yesterday marched in protest against the continued stay of acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda at the helm of the Judiciary. They marched from their Rhodes Park secretariat to the Lusaka High Court where they filed three grounds under which they are demanding the removal of the justice.
Clad in their court robes, the Law Association of Zambia members they filed their claim against the Attorney General as first respondent and Justice Lombe Chibesakunda as the second respondent.
They filed a statement of claim in the High Court stating that there had been a serious breach of the constitution provisions in regard with the appointment of Justice Chibesakunda as Supreme Court Judge and acting Chief Justice.
Abud Shonga, the chairperson for the litigation committee for LAZ filed the statement of claim yesterday on behalf of the lawyers’ body.
Shonga who led the solemn march by the lawyers said in his statement of claim that there were three grounds in which LAZ was demanding the removal of Justice Chibesakunda.
In his first ground, Shonga said Justice Chibesakunda had reached retirement age and therefore could not be appointed Chief Justice.
He said in his statement of claim that even if article 98 (i) (b) of the constitution allowed the President to extend the Judges term of office by seven years, the law stipulated that such a person could not hold a higher office than he or she had previously held.
Shonga stated in his statement of claim that even if Justice Chibesakunda had her contract extended by President Sata, the stipulated that such a contract could not be extended twice.
The lawyers said Justice Chibesakunda had been holding office of and performing the functions of Supreme Court Judge from the date of her appointment in May 2012.
“The re-appointment of Justice Chibesakunda as Acting Chief Justice was unlawful as the President did not have the power to re-appoint her (Justice Chibesakunda) after her contract expired in 2012. The constitution of Zambia only allows a person to be appointed as Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice of Zambia subject to ratification by the National Assembly of the Republic of Zambia and that such a person must be below the age of 65 years,” reads the statement of claim.
Shonga said the purported appointment of Justice Chibesakunda as Chief Justice was unlawful as the acting Chief Justice was and did not qualify to be appointed owing to the fact that she was older than 65 years as at the date of the purported appointment.
“As a result of the said breaches, the plaintiff now claims that the re-appointment of Justice Chibesakunda as Acting Chief Justice is null and void and therefore should with immediate effect vacate the office of the Supreme Court Judge,” reads the statement of claim.
Last Friday, during the official opening of the third session of the 13th National Assembly, President Sata in his salutations referred to Justice Lombe Chibesakunda as Chief Justice and not acting Chief Justice.
And LAZ President James Banda has said based on the points raised in the statement of claim, the lawyers had decided to go to court to demand the removal of Justice Chibesakunda because her stay was illegal.
Banda said LAZ had decided to take the matter to court following a resolution by the association.