Ndola High Court Judge Timothy Katenekwa has recused himself from hearing the matter in in which two High Court Judges are challenging the constitutionality of the tribunal to investigate them.
This follows Watchdog exposure that Judge Timothy Katenekwa is a close friend and former business partner of one of the culprits, Fred M’membe.
But the Watchdog has been informed that acting chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda is now being pushed by M’membe and DPP Mutembo Nchito to hear the matter herself. They want her to sit as High Court Judge and hear the case in which their K14 billion debt to Development Bank of Zambia caused the suspension of three judges by president Michael Sata.
The Watchdog understands that about 20 judges have so far refused to hear the matter because it is politically motivated and meant to protect Sata’s friends.
President Michael Sata in 2012 suspended three judges and set up a tribunal to investigate them for professional misconduct. The case of the judges revolves around a K14 billion debt which Fred M’membe and DPP Mutembo nchito owe the Development Bank of Zambia through the ill-fated and defunct project Zambian Airways. Judge Mutuna ruled that M’membe and Nchito should refund the public money.
That was the beginning of the problems. President Sata intervened and suspended the judges and imported a judge from Malawi to lead the tribunal. The judges went to court to challenge the setting of the tribunal. The High High Court ruled that the president was wrong to suspend the judges and set up a tribunal. The PF regime appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court and a divisive ruling said the High Court had been wrong and Sata in order but advised against proceeding with tribunal.
However, the PF said the tribunal would go ahead and even set a date.
But two of the three suspended Judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga challenged the constitutionality of the tribunal again.
Judges Mutuna and Kajimanga contested that the tribunal should not be allowed to sit and hear their alleged professional misconduct because it has no legal framework consistent with their constitutional rights.
Judges Mutuna and Kajimanga filed an application for judicial review challenging the constitutionality of the tribunal.
The two judges argued that the tribunal in question defies the rule of natural justice and was a violation of their constitutional rights.
They argued that the tribunal failed to give them adequate notice of its proceedings to enable them prepare adequately and exercise their constitutional rights during the hearings.
This is the matter that has been given to M’membe’s friend judge Katenekwa.
It should be remembered that the matter has always been about allocating the matter to a judge friendly to M’embe or Nchito. There were daring antics to have the case heard by their colleague Judge Albert Wood.
When the judge in charge removed Judge Wood from hearing this matter since he would be biased, the entire bench was in trouble with the government.