By Agness Changala-Katongo
Two environmental activists have applied for judicial review in the Lusaka High Court to challenge the decision by Deputy Chief Justice Micheal Musonda to refuse to establish a tribunal to investigate Lands minister Jean Kapata’s alleged acquisition of a plot in Lusaka East Forest Reserve Number 27.
In this case, former Tourism minister William Harrington and Robert Chimambo are seeking an order in the High Court for the purpose of quashing Justice Musonda’s decision.
The duo wants an order of the High Court to compel justice Musonda to establish a Tribunal to investigate the allegations against Kapata.
They requested the court to expedite the hearing of the application.
Hartington and Chimambo stated in their originating notice of motion for an order of certiorari and mandamus filed on March 5, 2020 in the Lusaka High Court principal registry, that on August 19, 2019 they wrote to the chief justice requesting her to establish a Tribunal to investigate alleged breaches by Kapata .
They alleged that it came to their knowledge in August last year that Kapata had acquired a plot in Lusaka’s East Forest Reserve 27 despite being the minister of Lands and despite the illegal nature of the degazetting process of the said Forest Reserve .
They stated that arising from the same and after thorough investigations, including the collection of documentary proof proving the said allocation of a small holding to Kapata, they complained to the office of the Chief Justice on August 19, 2019 requesting her to establish a Tribunal to investigate alleged breaches of the parliamentary and ministerial code of conduct.
They stated that after the chief justice recused herself from dealing with the complaint, the deputy chief Justice took up the matter and informed them that after conducting his own consultations and investigations, he arrived at the decision not to establish a Tribunal to investigate the alleged allegations which were raised against Kapata.
The duo stated that the decision of Justice Musonda refusing to establish a Tribunal to investigate allegations against Kapata for alleged breach of the parliamentary and Ministerial Code of Conduct Act Chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia was illegal as the said deputy chief justice had no powers under the said Act to exercise discretion to investigate allegations made against a minister before appointing a Tribunal to investigate the said allegations.
Harrington and Chimambo stated that Justice Musonda’s decision in so far as it purpoted to refuse to appoint a Tribunal after consulting his own investigations was disproportionate and wednesbury unreasonable.
They stated that the decision by the deputy chief justice refusing to establish a Tribunal to investigate allegations against Kapata dated December 27, 2019 was so defiant of logic, was not supported by any law whatsoever and was not based on any cogent facts whatsoever.
Harrington and Chimambo stated that they would rely on the provisions of Article 134 of the Constitution which confers upon the High Court unlimited and original jurisdiction to hear and determine any civil or criminal proceedings under any law and to review decisions as prescribed.
They also stated that the proposition that the role that the deputy chief justice acting as chief justice in so far as this matter was and was administrative in nature and as a public office such a decision amenable to jusicial review.
Harrington and Chimambo argued that this was a fit and proper case for the court to grant them leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the refusal of the deputy chief justice to establish a Tribunal to investigate Kapata as the law does not allow the said deputy chief Justuce to investigate allegations before establishing a Tribunal .
The duo crave the indulgence of the court to grant them leave to commence judicial review proceedings against the Attorney General who is the respodent in the matter.