IT was expected that suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito was trading on soft ground when he attempted to remain in office through a stay of President Edgar Lungu’s decision and to prevent the tribunal so constituted from commencing its sittings to probe him.
We say this because in matters pertaining to the disciplining of the DPP or his clearance in Zambia, there is no involvement of the Judiciary until a decision has been made by the appointing authority.
Even when the Judiciary is involved, the judges who constitute a tribunal are not there to find anybody guilty or innocent.
They are there to inquire into the allegations and at the end of the probe make recommendations. For avoidance of the misrepresentation, Article 58 (5), which President Edgar Lungu used to suspend Mr Nchito from the position of DPP is very clear.
“If the question of removing a person holding the office of Director of Public Prosecutions from office has been referred to a tribunal under this Article, the President may suspend that person from performing the function of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the President and shall in any case cease to have effect if the tribunal advises the President that the person ought not to be removed from office.”
Therefore, according to the Constitution, there are only two authorities that can reinstate the holder of the office of DPP after a tribunal has been constituted; the tribunal or the President.
This is not to say that Mr Nchito did and does not have the right to seek legal opinion if he felt aggrieved by President Lungu’s action to suspend him.
Mr Nchito had every right, only that his action was premature to address the situation and his circumstances.
Since President Lungu did not err in his exercise of his constitutional powers in constituting a tribunal, Mr Nchito should have waited for the right to apply for a judicial review and stay if it happened that the findings of the investigations went against his desires.
At the moment, Mr Nchito is an innocent man who is simply facing allegations and he has been afforded a chance to clear his name and restore his credibility which for now is in tatters.
Therefore, it would be wrong for anyone to paint Mr Nchito’s name black when allegations against him have not been proven.
Since the DPP has all along pleaded his innocence in all the allegations that have now resulted in the constitution of a tribunal, it would be interesting to see how his accusers would proceed with their alleged lies.
As the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), has said for the first time, the tribunal offers Mr Nchito an opportunity for him to end the mounting allegations.
It is in his interest and favour to be magnanimous enough and present himself before the Annel Silungwe Tribunal which he had personally demanded after his Chongwe arrest to clear name.