The Lusaka High Court last Friday quashed the decision by the discredited Lovemore Chikopa Tribunal to proceed with its hearing against retired Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda.
Judge Irene Lengalenga in her ruling said the proceedings of the Chikopa Tribunal that was established by President Michael Sata to investigate the alleged professional misconduct of two High Court Judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga and former Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda was going to be nothing but an academic exercise because Judge Musonda had ceased to be a judicial officers after his retirement.
The Judges were accused of mishandling the controversial case in which defunct Zambian Airways owned by Mutembo Nchito, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Fred M’membe, the owner of Post Newspaper and Nchima Nchito have refused to pay back the K14 billion they obtained by fraudulent misrepresentation from the Development Bank of Zambia.
Judge Lengalenga ruled that Justice Musonda had pre-empted the outcome of the Judge Chikopa Tribunal by his retirement and the Tribunal could therefore not proceed with its hearing against the former Supreme Court Judge.
Justice Lengalenga said there was no reason for the Chikopa Tribunal to proceed with its hearing after Justice Musonda had requested for retirement and that President Sata had accepted the decision by the former Supreme Court Judge to leave the judiciary.
Justice Musonda had challenged the Judge Chikopa Tribunal through a judicial review after the Malawian Judge ignored an order by the court to halt the hearing because the Supreme Court Judge had ceased to be a judicial officer.
Judge Lengalenga emphasized that the purpose of the Tribunal was to investigate Justice Musonda but that since the Judge had retired, the proceedings were going to be an exercise in futility because the recommendations would not carry any effect.
She said the decision by Judge Chikopa who has since returned to Malawi was so unreasonable because the purpose of the tribunal was to determine a matter that had already been resolved by the retirement of Judge Musonda.
She wondered why Judge Chikopa was so determined to spend huge sums of tax payers’ money on academic exercises whose outcome would not be implemented following the resignation of Judge Musonda.
Judge Lengalenga ruled that Judge Chikopa disregarded the order by Supreme Court not to proceed with the hearing because of the constitutional issues that were raised by Judge Musonda.
Judge Lengalenga said Judge Chikopa acted outside his jurisdiction when he ignored the Supreme Court order restraining the Tribunal to continue with its proceedings.
The Judge Chikopa Tribunal could not take off from inception after it suffered several court injunctions and the Malawian Judge has since returned to his home and the future of the Tribunal is in balance as it is still being challenged by Justices Mutuna and Kajimanga.