PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu’s decision to fire suspended Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito has full backing of legal statutes provided for in the Constitution of Zambia, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka has said.
Mr Kalaluka has submitted that based on recommendations of the tribunal appointed by President Edgar Lungu to probe allegations of misconduct against Mr Nchito, the President’s decision was backed by the Constitution.
Mr Kalaluka said the Constitution of Zambia (amendment) number 2 of 2016 provides that “the Director of Public Prosecutions may be removed from office on the same grounds and procedures as may apply to a judge”.
He said the same Zambian Constitution gave authority to the courts and tribunals created before the amendment to continue hearing unfinished matters commenced before the amendment of January 5, 2016.
“However, for the purpose of clarity, we will now cite Article 58 (2) and (3) of the Constitution of Zambia, which have since been repealed. “(3) If the President considers that the question of removing a person holding the office of Director of Public Prosecutions from office ought to be investigated, then- (a) he shall appoint a tribunal which shall consist of a chairman and not less than two other members, who hold or have held high judicial office;
(b) the tribunal shall inquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the President and advise the President whether the person holding the office of Director of Public Prosecutions ought to be removed from office under this article for incompetence or inability or for misbehaviour,” he said.
Mr Kalaluka explained that despite Mr Nchito’s insistence that the tribunal was fraudulently sitting following the amendment of the Constitution, it was, in fact, protected by the law to continue until the conclusion of its mandate.
President Lungu appointed a tribunal chaired by former Chief Justice Annel Silungwe to investigate alleged misconduct of Mr Nchito in line with the provisions of the Constitution, but the DPP has continued to fight the legality of the tribunal especially after President Lungu assented to the amended law.
And based on the recommendations, the President fired the DPP and immediately appointed a replacement, which action Mr Nchito petitioned as being illegal, null and void on grounds that it was based on recommendations from a defunct tribunal according to the amended law.