The tribunal probing the alleged professional misconduct of suspended Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda today proceeded with the enquiry despite receiving a communiqué from his lawyer Milner Katolo of Justice Musonda’s unavailability.
The tribunal which is being chaired by Malawian High Court Judge Lovemore Chikopa continued with the proceedings despite Justice Musonda’s absence and listened to one witness who was called to testify by the Attorney General.
Judge Chikopa revealed at the beginning of the setting that Justice Musonda and his team who were to be head had sent a written communication stating that they would not be in attendance following the pending judicial review of their stay which was to be tabled before the Lusaka high court.
But Tribunal Chairperson, Malawian High Court Judge Lovemore Chikopa said the tribunal will, with or without the defence will proceed with the enquiry into the complaint as there was no stay from the court to restrain the tribunal from proceeding.
He noted that as things stand, the court proceedings over the judicial review do not in any way interfere with the tribunal proceedings and vice versa hence the reason for the tribunal to proceed.
He said the tribunal will not force any party to attend its sittings as they have the rights to either attend or not and added that the tribunal has a mandate to enquire into the complaint in a fair and expedient manner and make recommendations.
He noted that the resignation of Justice Musonda is not an issue before his tribunal and wondered who had instructed them to not take part in the tribunal as there was no stay of any sort to stop the proceedings of the case.
And Attorney General Mumba Malila who was availed with the written communication from Justice Musonda’s lawyers Milner Katolo which further asked the tribunal not to proceed with the sitting because of a pending judicial review from the high court noted that there was no stay yet to stop the proceedings.
He noted that the proceedings of the high court judicial review would start tomorrow and not today adding that his team was ready to continue with the hearing.
But Dr Justice Musonda’s lawyer contended that it will be prejudice to the proceeding of the high court if the tribunal proceeded with the hearing into the alleged professional misconduct of Justice Musonda.
The Attorney General presented to the tribunal the first witness, Chilombo Phiri, an acting Secretary of the Judicial Service Commission who told the tribunal about the appointment and elevation of Dr Justice Musonda as Supreme Court judge.
Another witness, Albert Woods is expected to testify before the tribunal this afternoon.
The former Supreme Court judge Philip Musonda filed for judicial review to stop the tribunal from proceeding against him over his alleged professional misconduct.
Dr Justice Musonda wanted the Lusaka High Court to stay any preliminary decisions made by the Tribunal against him saying the decision of the Tribunal to proceed with the hearing against him was not in order as he had ceased to be a judicial officer.