THE Judge Lovemore Chikopa tribunal has been dissolved and the two suspended judges reinstated.
The tribunal was appointed by President Michael Sata to investigate alleged professional misconduct following a complaint by Post newspaper owner Fred M’membe, suspended Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito and Lusaka lawyer Nchima Nchito who owe the Development Bank of Zambia K14 million.
The Attorney General’s Chambers and the two suspended High Court judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga have entered a consent judgment following the dissolution of the tribunal.
The consent judgment read that pursuant to the provisions of article 98 (5) of the Constitution, Constitution of Zambia Act, chapter 1, it was only the President that was mandated to revoke the suspension of the respondents.
“It is hereby adjudged that His Excellency the President of Zambia has since dissolved the honourable Mr Justice Lovemore Chikopa-led tribunal and subsequently revoked the suspension of the respondents and directed the respondents continue to discharge their functions as puise Judges.
“It is hereby adjudged that the judgment of the High Court of judicature for Zambia wherein it was declared and ordered that the respondents’ suspensions cease to effect forthwith be and is hereby set aside,”reads the judgment.
The judgment which was delivered on Wednesday, ordered that judges Mutuna and Kajimanga’s suspensions have ceased and set aside.
The consent judgment was co-signed by three Supreme Court judges namely Justice Munyinda Wanki, Justice Elizabeth Muyovwe and Justice Gregory Phiri; the Attorney General’s Chambers and Messrs Eric Silwamba Jalasi and Linyama Legal Practitioners – the counsels for the duo.
The parties said the High Court judgment declared and ordered that the suspension of Judge Mutuna and Judge Kajimanga cease immediately because of the tribunal’s incapacity to carry out its mandate and that they were at liberty to resume their duties.
The Supreme Court said the High Court found that the tribunal was incapacitated because the appointing authority did not provide it with the necessary legal capacity by way of rules of procedure, thus producing a tribunal which was stillborn.
Recently, Kabwe High Court Judge Mwiinde Siavwapa lifted the suspensions of the two judges and recommended the immediate dissolution of the Chikopa tribunal because it had no legal capacity to execute the mandate for which it was constituted.
Last year Attorney General Musa Mwenye appealed against Judge Siavwapa’s decision to lift the suspensions .
Judge Siavwapa had ordered that the judges were at liberty to resume their duties with immediate effect.
He ruled that while he could not question the appointment of the tribunal by President Sata, it would be unfair and unjust for judges Mutuna and Kajimanga to remain suspended when the tribunal appointed to investigate them had no capacity to inquire into the matter.
He ruled that the decision by the Chikopa tribunal to formulate its own rules of procedure was illegal stating that the said rules were hence of no effect and that whatever decisions it made had been declared null and void ab initio.