SUSPENDED Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito cannot demand that the tribunal set up to probe him should be open to the public when the tribunal for Mukelabai Mukelabai the former DPP, which he instigated, was held in camera, prominent Lusaka lawyer Sakwiba Sikota has said.
And the Annel Silungwe led tribunal has set Fool’s Day ( April 1), as the date for receiving preliminary applications by the parties to the tribunal.
Mr Sikota said in Lusaka yesterday that there was nothing wrong for the tribunal members to hear Mr Nchito in camera as it was not the first time it was happening in Zambia.
The tribunal has announced that the hearings will be held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre without the public or members of the media.
Mr Sikota said there was a precedent where a tribunal established to investigate the late DPP Mukelabai was not open to the public.
Mr Nchito was the chief prosecutor in that tribunal
He said there was no need for Mr Nchito to demand that the tribunal should be opened to the public because the tribunal which he and Mr Fred M’membe allegedly instigated to probe Mr Mukelabai, was held in camera, despite the matter having received averse media attention particularly from the Post newspaper.
“This is not going to be the first tribunal involving a DPP. A few years back, there was the tribunal set up for Mr Mukelabai which was instigated by the present DPP, Mr Mutembo Nchito together with Mr Fred M’membe.’
“You will recall that the tribunal was held in camera. So, it is not something new or something different. At the time when the tribunal was held in camera, he (Mr Nchito) found it to be alright,” Mr Sikota said.
Mr Sikota appealed to Mr Nchito to face the tribunal so that the matter he was facing was addressed once and for all.
He said the longer the matter took to commence, the longer it would take for him to know his fate.
“It is surprising that today, he is changing and sammersaulting, saying that he wants it to be open when he didn’t offer that opportunity to Mr Mukelabai. There is nothing sinister with this tribunal at all. There is precedence and the precedent was set by the current DPP against DPP Mukelabai Mukelabai,” he said.
Mr Sikota said if Mr Nchito later felt that he had not been accorded a fair trial, he was at liberty to appeal in the courts of law for redress.
“If he thinks after the fact that he didn’t have a fair trial…and that there was procedural impropriety, he is free then to go to court to challenge the decision of the tribunal; so is not the end of everything for him,” he said.
Mr Sikota said Mr Nchito should be grateful that three former Chief Justices would hear the matter because they were serious legal minds.
And tribunal secretary Mathew Zulu said the tribunal will receive preliminary applications in open session on April 1.
Mr Zulu said in a statement yesterday that the media will be allowed to cover the event in which parties will be making preliminary applications.
“Following the swearing in of the members of the tribunal by Her Ladyship, the Chief Justice on 16th March, 2015, the tribunal has designated 1st April, 2015 as the date when they shall sit in open session when all proceedings before the tribunal will be received.
“The tribunal sittings will be conducted from Mulungushi International Conference starting 09:00 hours,” Mr Zulu said.