Information that the chairman of the Wynter Kabimba Tribunal Acting Supreme Court Judge Evans Hamaundu does not intend to call Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to testify over the letter she received from Justice Minister concerning the nullification of parliamentary seats has riled civil society.
Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali says Chibesakunda was critical to the inquiry to explain the steps she took after receiving the letter and how Judiciary public relations officer Terry Musonda prepared a statement that subsequently barred three candidates from recontenting their seats, in accodance with advice rendered by Mwenye.
“We must know to what extent the Judiciary is influenced by the ruling party secretary general Wynter Kabimba and in what other matters the Judiciary has been made to act in compliance with PF instructions. She must explain to the nation why the entire judiciary instituted measurers to bar candidates without any formal court hearing or procedures.” Tayali said. “Are the nullifications a result of such instructions” he asked.
He added that the Acting Chief Justice must explain what steps she took after receiving the letter from Kabimba that had also been copied to President Michael Sata with instructions for perusal, attention and action.
Asked to comment, one of the petitioners Brebner Changala confirmed that they intend to call the Acting Chief Justice and the matter was still under discussion among the lawyers.
“This tribunal will be incomplete if the letter from Kabimba which affected the Judiciary is not explained.” Changala said.
Tayali said his organisation had received information that Judge Evans Hamaundu who is the chairman of the tribunal was not going to call Justice Chibesakunda on grounds that she was the one who constituted and swore in the Kabimba Tribunal.
Tayali said Justice Chibesakunda was a critical witness in the Kabimba Tribunal because she had received a copy of the letter Kabimba had written to Patriotic Front (PF) lawyers Ellis & Co and that it would incorrect for her not to give her side of the story.
He said Solicitor General Musa Mwenye who had rendered government legal opinion to Kabimba was called to the stand and that it would be appropriate for the Acting Chief Justice to explain to the nation the events that took place after she received the letter from Kabimba on a PF letterhead.
“The Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda received the letter from Kabimba and that has made her a critical witness in this tribunal. We however have received information that Judge Hamaunda is not willing to call Justice Chibesakunda on grounds that she was the one who constituted the tribunal and swore in the members. But we would want to know if Kabimba has been writing to her and whether she had been receiving instructions from the PF on how to run the Judiciary,” Tayali said. He said his organisation would like to know if the letters from Kabimba had undermined the independence of the Judiciary.