Judges Wood, Hamaundu must not be ratified-Tayali

Judge Albert Wood is at the center of controversy surrounding the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) loan which High Court Judge Nigel Mutuna ruled was fraudulently obtained by Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mutembo Nchito and his business counterpart Fred M’membe, owner of the Post Newspaper and should never have been appointed Supreme Court Judge, Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali has observed.

Tayali said the case was still an active matter in court and would go to the Supreme Court at some stage.

Tayali has also observed that President Michael Sata should have waited for the conclusion of the Tribunal investigating Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba before confirming Judge Hamaundu as Supreme Court Judge because his appointment had fueled speculations that the president was rewarding Judge Hamaundu for what he was doing on the tribunal.

Tayali said while President Sata had the prerogative of appointing anyone he saw fit, the circumstances under which Judge Wood was appointed were suspicious and should therefore not be ratified by the Parliamentary select committee that would be set up.

The Zambian Voice chief has warned that the appointment of Judge Wood as Supreme Court Judge had the potential to erode and compromise the highest court in the country and the Judiciary in general.

He explained that there was a general perception that Judge Wood would never be impartial in handling matters where his friends were involved.

He said Judge Wood was a witness in some of the cases which were as a result of the violation of procedure in the justice system.

“While President Sata has the prerogative to appoint any person of his choice to hold any constitutional office, we are not happy with the appointment of Judge Wood as Supreme Court Judge because of the circumstances surrounding him. The appointment of Judge Wood as Supreme Court Judge has the potential of eroding and compromising the integrity of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the public. Judge Wood is that the center of the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) loan scandal and the case is very active in court,” Tayali said.

He said President Sata should have waited for the conclusion of the Tribunal investigating Kabimba for breach of secrecy and abuse of authority before confirming Judge Hamaundu as Supreme Court Judge because he was the one chairing the tribunal that was probing the Justice Minister.

Tayili stated that there were fears that confirmation of Judge Wood AS Supreme Court Judge would have some influence on the outcome of the tribunal.

He said there was a general feeling that Judge Hamaundu was being appeased and that it would be difficult for the acting Supreme Court Judge to make incriminating recommendations against Kabimba who was his boss.

“We are appealing to the Parliamentary select committee that will be set up to ratify the two Judges to reject their names because that would compromise and erode the integrity of the Judiciary. We want people to be promoted on merit and we consider the appointments of the two Judges wrong,” Tayali said.

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