SUSPENDED Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito has asked the tribunal tasked to probe him to conduct its investigations without barring members of the public from attending the hearings.
This is according to his letter addressed to tribunal chairperson Justice Annel Silungwe.
Mr Mutembo said since the allegations he was facing were of public interest, it would be unfair to deny people an opportunity to attend the tribunal hearing.
And Transparency International Zambia executive director Goodwell Lungu said pronouncement being made to have the tribunal held in camera would defeat the purpose because the allegations leveled against Mr. Nchito were already in the public domain.
Mr Lungu said Mr Nchito’s tribunal should be made public because all allegations that were raised against him were made publicly, adding that the people of Zambia have an interest in the proceedings and findings of the tribunal.
“We want transparency in the manner in which Mr Nchito’s tribunal will be dealt with by those who were sworn in yesterday by Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima,” he said.
Mr Lungu said all those who were of the view that Mr Nchito’s tribunal must be held in camera should rescind their decisions if the tribunal was to serve its purpose.
FODEP executive director McDonald Chipenzi said there was nothing to hide because all the allegations levelled against Mr. Nchito were already public, adding that the Annel Silungwe Tribunal would be doing a favour to the nation and Mr. Nchito by stopping speculation by way of allowing the proceedings to be held in public.
Mr. Chipenzi said the allegations Mr. Nchito was facing were grave and the best way to deal with them to avoid suspicions was to allow members of the public and the media to attend the proceedings.
He said the proposal by the tribunal to hold the hearing in camera would not help the dispensation of justice in a fair manner.
PF vice chairperson for publicity Sunday Chanda demanded that the proceedings of the tribunal probing Mr Nchito should be held in the open.
Commenting on the decision by the tribunal members to bar the media the public and other interested stakeholders from listening to the investigations, Mr. Chanda said the decision was tantamount to denying Zambians a chance to know the truth about the conduct or misconduct of the DPP.
Mr. Chanda said if the tribunal went ahead with the ban, the people of Zambia and Mr. Nchito himself would continue to accuse each other of wrongdoing.
“We join other stakeholders such as Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) and Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) among others in demanding that the tribunal appointed to probe Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito allows the proceedings to be open to the general public. This is considering the nature of the terms of reference and gravity of the matter in that the person involved is DPP whose office ought to be above board,” said Mr. Chanda.
He said allowing the general public access to the tribunal proceedings was important to avoid sensational media reporting especially those that sided with him, adding that making the tribunal open to the public would protect the tribunal itself and the general public from malicious reporting on proceedings.
“We are aware of deliberate manoeuvres by the cartel and its members to misrepresent the true intent of the tribunal as a scheme by His Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to maliciously persecute the DPP,” said Mr. Chanda.
He said the notion created by the cartel that the tribunal was aimed at hounding out or persecuting Mr. Nchito would only be cleared if the proceedings were made open to the public in order for the people of Zambia to see the levels and extent of the transgressions.
“This notion, among others, can only be corrected if the tribunal allows the general public access to the proceedings.
“The public should be availed this opportunity in order for them to have confidence in the outcome of the process.
“Lastly, the general public would need to see that justice is seen to be done” to Mr. Nchito.
“On this score, we make this clarion call to the eminent tribunal not to bar the general public from following these proceedings of national interest,” said Mr Chanda.