AS THE Annel Silungwe Tribunal began sitting yesterday, suspended Director of Public Prosecutions Mutembo Nchito commenced another legal action in a different court to stop the proceedings.
Mr Nchito described the tribunal appointed to probe his activities while in office as defunct, accusing it of going against the recently amended republican Constitution.
In his petition filed at the Constitutional Court registry yesterday, Mr Nchito accused the tribunal sittings as unconstitutional following President Edgar Lungu’s assent to the amended Constitution on January 5, 2016.
However, Article 16 of the new Constitution states: “(1) Unless otherwise provided under the Constitution as amended, proceedings pending before court or tribunal shall continue to be heard and determined by the same court or tribunal or may be transferred to a corresponding court or tribunal established under the Constitution as amended.
Further, Article 16 (2) states: “Unless otherwise provided under the Constitution as amended, a matter or proceeding that, immediately before the effective date, is pending before a commission, office or authority shall continue before the same commission, office or authority or corresponding commission, office or authority established under the new Constitution as amended.”
Mr Nchito has accused the Annel Silungwe Tribunal, conducted by three former Chief Justices of Zambia, of going against the new Constitution Amendment Act no. 2 of 2016 which he said in Part 13 dealt with the office of the DPP, and rendered the tribunal defunct.
He charged that the constitutional backing on which the tribunal was established had no legal effect as the law was repealed and replaced by a new Constitution process. He has asked the Constitutional Court to declare that “That the said Constitution of Zambia Amendment Act number 2 of 2016 repeals among others Part 4 of the Constitution which contained Article 58 under which the tribunal in issue was created.
“That it be determined and declared that the insistence by the defunct tribunal to deal with the petitioner is unconstitutional in the light of the law as it now stands,” he said in the petition.
Mr Nchito has been fighting the setting up of a tribunal to investigate him as DPP including its decision to sit in camera, arguing that the secrecy would take away the transparency from the public nature of the charges against him.
The Annel Silungwe Tribunal began sitting chaired by Mr Justice Silungwe sitting with former Chief Justice Matthew Ngulube and retired Chief Justice Ernest Sakala after being sworn in by President Lungu on 16 March 2015.
The tribunal began sitting yesterday after Mr Nchito lost another bid in the Supreme Court last week to stop its proceedings.