THE prospect of additional fresh charges being preferred against him by President Edgar Lungu yesterday sent suspended Director Of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito into a pique.
Mr Nchito demanded that the tribunal should proceed with the charges published online instead of waiting for the formal charges.
Acting Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa informed the ribunal that the appointing authority has expressed desire to amend the terms of reference.
Tribunal chairperson Justice Annel Silungwe said there was no way Mr Nchito could raise preliminary issues on allegations that have not been served on him.
Mr Nchito feared that he might face fresh and additional allegations of abuse of office when the State amends those ones he is already facing.
Mr Mwansa said there was nothing wrong for the appointing authority to amend the allegations and even add some more.
“The law is clear that the tribunal is in form of inquiry…if allegations ought to be expanded, an inquiry can be adjourned with a time frame. There is nothing wrong for the appointing authority to give additional mandate in terms of allegations,” he said.
Mr Mwansa said the amended terms of reference would be given to the tribunal and Mr Nchito in due course.
He said there was no room to raise preliminary issues on the allegations circulating as that would be an impeachment of the mandate of the tribunal.
Mr Mwansa asked the tribunal to adjourn for one week as there was a need to address procedural matters which were not followed during yesterday’s sitting.
Mr Justice Silungwe, flanked by Justice Mathew Ngulube and Justice Ernest Sakala, said it had been noted that there were some lapses which occurred when yesterday’s open session was called for and that those needed to be corrected.
“You were not served with allegations and that procedural steps need to be followed…the tribunal needs to correct this,” he said.
Judge Silungwe said that when yesterday’s sitting was called for, it was anticipated that by the time the tribunal would be sitting, procedural steps would have been taken but it did not.
Mr Nchito objected to the amending of the terms of reference and also disputed the application to adjourn the matter for one week.
“I didn’t bring myself here, I was invited to come. Now, I have come I want to raise all the preliminary issues. Why didn’t they serve me with allegations,” he said.
Mr Nchito argued that if the State amended the terms of reference, it could mean that additional allegations would be brought on board and claimed that there was no provision for that.
He said the jurisdiction of the tribunal at the moment was bounded in what the terms of reference stipulate and that purpose of yesterday’s sitting was to raise preliminary issues.
“I have issues to raise on the terms of reference that have been published…if they amend the terms of reference, we don’t know what they want to do, whether what they want to do is illegal or not,” Mr Nchito said.
Mr Nchito said he wanted to raise preliminary issues so that he would not complain in future after the sittings.
He claimed that the constitution of issues was legally flawed and that the terms of reference were incapacitated because the State did not follow the Constitution.
Mr Nchito said he had not been served with any documents and that the action the State had taken was a fundamental infringement of justice.
“I object that…how come they turn round and say they are not ready. There should be a proper reason for adjournment…I am ready to proceed and to be heard,” he said.
Mr Nchito said his matter was of public nature and it affected the Constitution and he needed to raise preliminary issues.
He said the best the State could do was to proceed with the matter and then at a later stage apply for an adjournment.
But Mr Mwansa interjected and told the tribunal that it was not the duty of Mr Nchito to advise on which terms of reference or allegations should constitute the mandate of the tribunal.
He said it was the appointing authority that had the mandate to advise the tribunal and not any other person.
Mr Mwansa said Mr Nchito should be grateful to the tribunal because if it wanted it would have gone ahead without an open session.
“Had this tribunal so wished, it was going to do its inquiry and then render the report,” he said.
And the tribunal rejected application for Mr Newton Ng’uni’s lawyers Keith Mweemba, Gilbert Phiri, Jonas Zimba and Makebi Zulu to be put on the record.
Mr Phiri said he and his colleagues needed to be put on record because their client, who is one of the witnesses to the tribunal, had the right to be represented.
Judge Silungwe advised the lawyers to join the State if they so wished but it was not automatic.
Mr Justice Silungwe granted the State its application for an adjournment and set April 13 as the date for the next sitting.