In the last two weeks the Supreme Court has pronounced as many nuanced and substantive judgments that will bring back our derailed justice system onto the tracks.
Last week the court refused to attach legal privilege to a process in which a lawyer was advising a public institution, in this case the Bank of Zambia, to conceal evidence of wrongdoing in fear of negative repercussions.
The court ruled that it would not be in the public interest to allow a public institution to purposely refrain from disciplining an errant officer because it did not want the officer to adduce evidence which would assist allegations of mismanagement.
Lusaka High Court Judge Mubanga Kondolo apparently earned his transfer from Lusaka soon after refusing to declare the “concealment” communication privileged.
In the second ground-breaking judgment the Supreme Court has ruled that the lower court erred in allowing Mutembo Nchito to raise judicial review proceedings against decision of the tribunal constituted to investigate his suitability to remain as DPP because of misconduct allegations.
Mutembo Nchito had issues with the Tribunal. He objected to its composition and the manner in which it would operate.
The court ruled that while constitutional office holders should be protected in the performance of their duties, encumbrances should not be placed in investigative procedures or tribunals established to determine their suitability to remain in office.
The rulings are substantive because they go to the root of serious abuses that the judicial system has suffered at the hands of a cabal of individuals who deemed themselves above the law.
The two rulings which appear disparate and unrelated actually address the same reality of impunity based on political privilege and abuse of state power.
In the first ruling the Nchito brothers, were legal Counsel to the bank of Zambia while Mutembo Nchito was the lead prosecutor on the task force on corruption. It is inexplicable that the bank saw nothing wrong in retaining a company that was directly involved in criminal prosecution over a Bank it had supervisory authority.
In essence therefore Nchito was the prosecutor, supervisor of the bank liquidator and finally a legal counsel for the bank.
This is mind-boggling.
The high level of professional conflict of interest alone should have alerted the Law Association of Zambia to a very disquieting professional relationship that was not only short on declaration of interest but bereft of any professional consideration.
The tragedy of the matter is that LAZ allowed this situation to prevail. Their disciplinary council even dismissed public complaints on account of professional privilege.
There is no doubt these matters would not have been exposed if the political regime had not changed. Political patronage would have prevailed as our lawyers would have been too scared to raise the alarm.