Judges to sit on Kabimba tribunal appointed

Judges to sit on Kabimba tribunal appointed

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 05.42.35Three High Court Judges have been appointed to sit on a tribunal to investigate Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba.

Mathew Zulu, the legal affairs special assistant to the acting chief justice says president Michael Sata has already been notified and that the sitting will start as soon as all logistics are in place.

Acting chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda has appointed High Court judge Evans Hamaundu as chairman of the tribunal. The other judges on the tribunal are Getrude Chawatama and Justine Chashi.

By convention, Justice minister Wynter Kabimba is now expected to resign from his position to enable the tribunal conduct its job thoroughly.

President Sata has already been notified and he has no role to play except to dismiss Kabimba if he doe not resign on his own accord.

Last week, Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda agreed to constitute a tribunal to investigate Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba.

The tribunal is aimed at investigating Kabimba for abuse of office when he used a government legal opinion and tried to influence the Supreme Court to pursue a private agenda of the Patriotic Front.

Civil rights activist Brebner Changala and former Solwezi Central Member of Parliament Lucky Mulusa petitioned Justice Chibesakunda to establish a tribunal against Kabimba who is  also secretary general of the ruling PF so that he could explain why he used government legal opinion offered to him in his capacity as Justice Minister by Solicitor General Musa Mwenye on the nullification of the Petauke Central, Malambo and Mulobezi parliamentary seats.

In a letter dated December 24th 2013 addressed to the Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda, Changala and Mulusa have applied that the tribunal to be established should investigate whether or not Kabimba as Justice Minister had breached his oath of secrecy when he released a classified government legal opinion for use by the PF.

Changala and Mulusa are demanding that Kabimba should be made to explain through the tribunal whether or not he was in breach of the law when he used government legal opinion to pursue a private agenda through Leonard Banda who was a private litigant.

The duo would also want Kabimba to be investigated on whether or not the letter on a PF letterhead by Kabimba to the lawyers of the Patriotic Front and copied to Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda constituted interference with the independence of the judiciary as guaranteed by the constitution.

The duo said for the purpose of the tribunal to be established, they intended to subpoena Justice Chibesakunda, Solicitor General Musa Mwenye, Attorney General Mumba Malila, and the deputy registrar of the Supreme Court Phiri.

When the Supreme Court made the judgment in the case where MMD leader Nevers Mumba was charged with contempt of court, the condemned Kabimba for writing the letter to the Chief Justice

‘At this stage, we wish to comment on the documents in the supplementary bundle of documents.  Firstly, given the sequence of events, we are of the view that the statement issued by the Public Relations Officer and the subsequent Report to the Electoral Commission of Zambia; were influenced by the letter of 1st August, 2013 by the Patriotic Front.  Secondly, we are uncomfortable and worried that the letter of 1st August, 2013 and the legal opinion attached thereto, was copied to the Hon. Acting Chief Justice.

‘We say so because there were already intended moves to file the motions stated above.

‘In our view, it is not in order for an intending litigant, or somebody on his behalf, to send a letter and legal opinion, related to intended litigation, to a member of the Court.

The Supreme Court said ‘such a move gives a perception that the Court is siding with a party to the dispute.  And it is that kind of perception that caused the contemnor to make the contemptuous statements, for which he is charged.  The truth is that this Court does not get directives, from anybody, to decide election petitions in a pre-determined way.’

Share this post