THE vitriol against the Annel Silungwe Tribunal spewed by Post newspaper Editor Fred M’membe and his business partner the former Director of Public Prosecution Mutembo Nchito is intolerable and un-acceptable, because they are based on lies.
It is said that those who approach equity must do so with clean hands, meaning that those who seek relief must not have ulterior motives but must do so with clean hands, unblemished by previous conduct that has been blameworthy.
Clearly, the issues being raised by Mutembo Nchito and Fred M’membe are mal fides and therefore not blameless.
Firstly; no administrative tribunal is held in open hearing. It is common practice in the commonwealth that investigative tribunals are held in camera because by their very nature they are investigative and not adjudicative as they can only make recommendations to the appointing authority.
The principle of open justice does not apply because the Annel Silungwe tribunal will not pass judgement. Only court hearings are open to the public. Indeed if prosecution will arise from the tribunal the subsequent court hearings will be open to the public.
This fact is well known to both Mutembo Nchito and Fred M’membe because Mutembo Nchito was a witness and gave evidence in camera to the Mukelabai Mukelabai tribunal on which judges Philip Musonda, Charles Kajimanga and Chulu sat. How indeed can issues of open Justice be advanced today in the Silungwe tribunal.
Secondly: it is an act of temerity and impudence for Mutembo and Fred to cast aspersions at senior judges and requesting them to recuse themselves. The attempt to lower their estimation to their level is a scandal because there is no comparison and any such comparison is scurrilous because the two senior judges have had respected judicial careers on the Zambian bench, where they served with distinction and passed some of the most outstanding judgements. This cannot be said about Mutembo and Fred whose sense of judgement is seriously impaired as exemplified by the current tribunal.
Their levels of bias, partiality and extreme calumny can best be determined by how they hounded Mukelabai Mukelabai out of office on totally fabricated charges.
The issue of the Zamtrop money which Judge Ngulube is alleged to have received from former President Frederick Chiluba has never been a matter of litigation. If anything the matter was regularized and the Judge made to pay tax on it because there was no intent of wrong doing. Indeed if there was any intent of wrong doing, President Levy Mwanawasa would not have allowed Judge Ngulube to go scot free.
We don’t see the tribunal diverting from the well established procedure of holding sessions in camera, precisely because it has a duty to inform the President of the propriety, righteousness and validity of charges and what action the president should take. The tribunal cannot depart from this established procedure for the sake of satisfying Mutembo Nchito and Fred M’membe.
The Mukelabai tribunal made recommendations to the president and subsequently he had to leave because trust had broken down.
Similarly this tribunal must be allowed to investigate without any interference, let or hindrance to arrive at a recommendation which President Lungu will be at absolute liberty to either accept or reject.
It will not do for M’membe to maintain a barrage against individuals and the institutions of the tribunal because these have been created by law and are not political institutions that can be willed away as was the case under President Michael Sata.
The situation has changed and there are no longer any sacred cows that cannot be investigated.