Alliance for a Better Zambia (ABZ) president Frank Bwalya has raised a number of questions surrounding the fairness and credibility of the Tribunal established to investigate Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba.
He has asked whether it was appropriate to appoint Judge Hamaundu as Chairman of the Tribunal when he was acting Supreme Court Judge waiting for confirmation subject to approval by the President.
This was a very tenuous position for a sensitive tribunal involving a Minister who the President had failed to suspend or remove from office during the Tribunal.
According to information availed to Fr Bwalya Judge Hamaundu was at the same school as Wynter, “Will this have an effect on the outcome?” he asked. Fr Bwalya has also questioned whether the failure by President Michael Sata to fire or even suspend Kabimba would not bear on the outcome of the results and findings of the Tribunal since most of the witnesses that have been subpoenaed were from the Justice Ministry and were junior to Kabimba.He wondered whether the failure by President Sata to send Kabimba who is PF secretary general on forced leave while appearing before the Tribunal would not create problems of conflict of interest, intimidation of witnesses working in government as well as the breach of common sense.
“The Tribunal that has been set up to investigate Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba for breach of the oath of secrecy and abuse of office starts sitting on Monday 20th January 2014. The following are serious questions that I think Zambians should keep asking as the Tribunal chaired by Acting Supreme Court Judge Evans Hamaundu progresses. What effect, if any, will the fact that the chairperson of the Tribunal, Acting Judge of the Supreme Court Evans Hamaundu, was in school with Mr Kabimba have on the outcome of the Tribunal? Will the failure by President Michael Chilufya Sata to send Mr Kabimba on forced leave while the Tribunal sits create problems of conflict of interest, intimidation of witnesses working in government and many other related problems including breach of common sense?” Fr Bwalya wondered.The ABZ leader was worried that since Judge Hamaundu was Acting Supreme Court Judge pending confirmation by President Sata, there was a danger that he (Judge Hamaundu) would conduct himself in a manner to please the executive to secure confirmation to his new position.Fr Bwalya said the Tribunal has reserved the right to subpoena witnesses or indeed refuse to subpoena witnesses and wondered whether the Tribunal would subpoena one of the key witnesses, the Acting Chief Justice who ironically also appointed and swore in the members of the Tribunal.He said If the Tribunal was going to refuse to subpoena the Acting Chief Justice and Solicitor General Musa Mwenya, the relevance of the Tribunal would not be totally lost.He wondered whether it was in order for a Tribunal of this nature to stop the Petitioners from moving the Tribunal to subpoena a witness of their choice.
“Is this fair on the part of the Petitioners?Was the choice of Justice Gertrude Chawatama who is a relative of President Sata coincidental and what effect, if any, will this reality have on the outcome of the Tribunal?Did the Executive allow the creation of the Tribunal in good faith or it is another scheme to hoodwink unsuspecting citizens that the PF is committed to upholding good governance?It is my prayer that answers to these questions will befound as the Tribunal progresses” FrMwalya said.