A suggestion that Solicitor-General Musa Mwenye, offered legal opinion to Justice Minister, Wynter Kabimba as a consultant rather than Solicitor general, yesterday forced the first sitting of the Tribunal to adjourn for five minutes.
Chairman of the Tribunal, and acting Supreme Court judge Evans Hamaundu warned the lawyers who were cross examining former Solwezi Member of Parliament, Lucky Mulusa that the suggestion was a dangerous avenue.
Robson Malipenga, one of the lawyers representing Kabimba was stopped from proceeding with cross-examining Lucky Mulusa, who is one of the petitioners in the Tribunal, after he submitted that Mwenye had rendered his legal advice to Kabimba not as Solicitor General but as a private consultant.
Judge Evans Hamaundu was compelled to curtail Malipenga’s line of cross examination when it became clear that he was contradicting other defence lawyers who had earlier argued that Mwenye was a public servant and that he had a duty to render his legal opinion to Kabimba who was Justice Minister serving Zambians.
As soon as Malipenga said he wanted to prove that Mwenya was a consultant and not a public servant, Judge Hamaundu interjected: “That is a dangerous path you have taken. Could we adjourn for five minutes so that you consult each other?”
And Mulusa has maintained that Kabimba breached the oath of secrecy by converting a government legal opinion rendered to him as Justice Minister to private use for his political party, the Patriotic Front, which did not pay for the opinion and thereby obtained pecuniary advantage.
He told the Tribunal that Kabimba who was on oath both as nominated Member of Parliament and Justice Minister breached the oath of secrecy when he transmitted information that came to him as Justice Minister to Elis and Company Advocates, the law firm representing the PF which information was also copied to President Sata and the Acting Chief Justice.
Mulusa argued that Kabimba had also failed to protect the constitution by writing a letter to PF lawyers on a PF letterhead and copying the same letter to President Sata and Justice Lombe Chibesakunda on a matter that was under litigation in the Supreme Court.
Mulusa said the PF was a private club that should not have had the privilege of having access to government legal opinion because that was meant to the disadvantage of other political parties such as the MMD and the UPND.
The former Solwezi Central MP argued that Kabimba and his party had gained pecuniary advantage by obtaining government legal opinion without paying for it.
He said Kabimba obtained the legal opinion from Mwenye knowing fully well that he was going to use such opinion for his private business but had failed to pay for the service.
“Musa Mwenye rendered his legal opinion to Kabimba as Solicitor General and He (Kabimba) in his wisdom or the lack of it passed that opinion to the lawyers of his political party, the PF and copied it to President Sata and the Acting Chief Justice. I want to believe that Kabimba was subject to oath of secrecy as a nominated MP and Justice Minister. He breached the oath of secrecy and abused his authority by interfering with the independence of the Judiciary by copying the legal opinion to the Acting Chief Justice to peruse with attention and acting upon the advice,” Mulusa explained.
And the Tribunal hearing was punctuated with acrimony as the defence lawyers led by Bonaventure Mutale struggled to prove that Kabimba had not breached the oath of secrecy and abused his authority forcing Judge Hamaundu who was sitting with High Court Justices Gertrude Chawatama and Justice Chashi to caution the participants to avoid confrontation.
Judge Hamaundu warned that if the participants were going to continue being confrontational, he was to order their exclusion from the Tribunal sessions and that the tribunal was going to conduct investigations on its own.
Kabimba is being represented by Bonaventure Mutale, Willie Mubanga, Dr John Mulilwa, Abraham Mwansa and Eddy Mumba while Mulusa and Brebner Changala who are the petitioners are being represented by Makebi Zulu and Gilbert Phiri, Keith Mweemba and NgangaYalenga
Sittings continue today.