SUSPENDED Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito is incompetent and the State is ready to prove the allegation, the Annel Silungwe Tribunal heard yesterday.
But Mr Nchito has accused President Edgar Lungu of maliciously suspending him and framing up uninvestigated charges against him for which he is currently appearing before the tribunal.
The State, through Attorney General Likando Kalaluka and Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa, said they were ready to proceed and prove Mr Nchito was incompetent in the discharge of his duties by indiscriminately entering nolle prosequis apart from misbehaviour and abuse of authority of office.
Mr Mwansa objected to Mr Nchito’s submissions and claims and asked the tribunal to dismiss his arguments with the contempt they deserved.
He argued that the tribunal was not an adjudicative jurisdiction but an investigative inquiry and it was therefore wrong at law for Mr Nchito to clothe the tribunal with adjudicative authority.
Mr Mwansa submitted that the tribunal should not entertain Mr Nchito’s demands as the suspended DPP was going to be given the chance to be fully heard over the allegations he was facing.
He said it was strange that Mr Nchito could accuse Justices Ngulube and Sakala of bias without advancing any form of proof of how partial they would be as members of the tribunal.
Mr Mwansa said the tribunal should not be swayed by the unsubstantiated allegations against Justices Ngulube and Sakala and that the DPP had no good reason to demand the recusal of the two justices on account of not liking them.
But Mr Nchito yesterday complained that his entitlement to his full salary had been taken away following his suspension and that it was a violation of his basic human rights to have been placed on suspension without being given an opportunity to exculpate himself.
He claimed that it was malicious for the President to have decided to amend the terms of reference after the tribunal had commenced its sitting, alleging that the outcome of the tribunal had been predetermined by the appointing authority.
Mr Nchito, who appeared angry with the State’s plea to the tribunal that his submissions should be dismissed with the contempt they deserved said although he had been suspended from performing his functions and not entitled to his full salary, he was the substantive DPP of the country and deserved to be respected.
He claimed that the inclusion of a new allegation to the list of the charges he was facing was nothing but a fishing expedition because, according to him, the new term of references had fallen short of the provision of the Constitution and fatally injured the tribunal.
Mr Nchito argued that while President Lungu had the constitutional right to constitute a tribunal to investigate his incompetence, misbehaviour and abuse of authority of office, the Head of State did not enjoy the right to amend the terms of reference after the tribunal had been sworn in.
Mr Nchito maintained his threat that he was not going to allow the tribunal to continue its sittings until the preliminary issues he had raised were addressed.
Among the preliminary issues Mr Nchito has raised is his demand to have former Chief Justices Mathew Ngulube and Ernest Sakala recuse themselves because he was basically not happy with them. “What procedure did the President follow in amending the terms of references? The simple reason for amending the terms of references after the tribunal had been sworn in is that there is malice. To amend the terms of references when the tribunal is sitting raises fundamental questions and it would appear that the outcome of this tribunal has been predetermined.
What will stop them from coming up with fresh charges another day. Let them set another tribunal if they have other allegations because the President while he has constitutional power to constitute a tribunal to investigate me, he does not enjoy the right of amending the terms of references after the tribunal has been sworn in,” Mr Nchito said.
When reminded by tribunal chairman Annel Silungwe that President Lungu as the appointing authority reserved the right to amend the allegations, Mr Nchito accused the Head of State of interfering with the proceedings of the tribunal.