IT was a tribunal established almost entirely to undermine the case of the K14 billion borrowed by Mutembo Nchito and his friend Fred M’membe from the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ).
It was a tribunal without any rules and meant simply to tarnish the image of three prominent judges who have subsequently suffered months of indignity, mental torture and social ostracisation just because they were associated to the movement of a file on the DBZ case.
The three judges, Dr. Philip Musonda, Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga, join a long chain of innocent victims of the malicious wiles of the cartel that has destroyed many lives. We have lost many brilliant minds among them our former Chief Justice Matthew Ngulube hounded out by malicious lies, we had another Chief Justice Ernest Sakala hounded out by a contrived judicial reform campaign that was a total sham.
We were on the verge of losing three judges to these machinations. It is our hope that a way can be found to reverse the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Dr. Philip Musonda. There is no reason why we should lose an expert in constitutional law to people who have a lot to explain to the nation.
From the very beginning, according to Judge Mwinde Siavwapa, the Chikopa tribunal was stillborn and the rules of procedure purportedly formulated by the tribunal fell short of the required tenets of the rules of natural justice.
What with the tribunal publishing a notice in the media making a global invitation to the world to present any allegations against the three judges!
What did this have to do with the K14 billion borrowed from DBZ, which matter was already before the courts of law? And what was so urgent that the court process could not be allowed to proceed to its logical end without being interposed by an administrative tribunal, thereby effectively prejudicing the matter in court.
There is no doubt that the Chikopa tribunal was bad at law and was initiated for very wrong reasons which had nothing to do with the law.
The President and indeed the Presidency was abused to start a process which, as Judge Siavwapa has rightly noted, was stillborn from the start and established without the ability to execute its mandate.
How many Zambians have had their properties seized because they failed to pay small amounts of money they borrowed from banks and indeed how many Zambians have had their cases moved from one judge to another without raising rancor?
Why indeed was President Sata made to bypass the Judicial Complaints Authority which is the rightful body charged with the mandate to look into such issues as the one that Mutembo and M’membe raised?
Indeed how it could be justice that the judges were first suspended then the nation was asked to conjure and make up charges against them? How could people who engineered such injustice exhibit such temerity as to criticize the judiciary?
It is quite appropriate therefore that Judge Siavwapa has ruled that the so called rules of procedure declared by the tribunal as being null and void.
Time has come when meaningful governance systems are put in place to ensure that the Judiciary is truly independent and will discharge its functions in a manner that will not give favour to those who are close to the head of State.
The last 12 years have seen the worst levels of impunity, for which people must account. That is why we expect that the next President will bring the culprits to book. They must explain the huge thefts from the Bank of Zambia sequestrated accounts. They must explain the unconscionable theft of public funds in the guise of loans and unrequited funds collected from public institutions.
The truth must come out.