Patriotic Front chief propagandist Fred M’membe has overtly instituted contempt proceedings against opposition Movement for Multi-Party Democracy leader Dr Nevers Mumba in a bid to quell the intense criticism against Supreme Court Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda.
M’membe was key to imposing Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda and her deputy Florence Mumba to superintend the judiciary after forcing Ernest Sakala and Denis Chirwa to exit in their fake call for judicial reforms.
The Post Newspaper owner started the campaign to force the Supreme Court to punish Dr Mumba and those against their stooge justice Chibesakunda through his editorial comments a few weeks ago.
In collaboration with President Michael Sata, whom M’membe commands, justice minister Wynter Kabimbda and director of public prosecutions Mutembo Nchito, the four asked justice Chibesakunda to summon Dr Mumba and send him to jail for contempt.
But fearing further criticism and opposition, justice Chibesakunda and a few PF aligned Supreme Court and High Judges who have been meeting members of the cartel advised that it will be an obvious case of oppression if Dr Mumba was directly summoned by the highest court in the country. That decision, they feared, would have attracted massive outcry from the general public and aggravated the already stained democratic image of the PF.
As a result, sources say a plan was hatched to find a trusted PF cadre to commence the contempt proceeding and that the person doing so should have a direct interest in the matter Dr Mumba had raised in his criticism of Chibesakunda and the bench.
The sources close to the development say the cartel had no option but to ask losing PF Petauke member of parliament Leornard Banda to move a motion to start the process of jailing Dr Mumba. The outcome is expected to send shivers in the opposition and members of the public to stop being critical of the judiciary which the PF is expected to abuse ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
M’membe has offered to pay all legal fees accrued to Banda during the proceedings. If Dr Mumba does not apologise after which he stands to be fined, he risks a two to three year jail term. But the apology will be used by M’membe to discredit Dr Mumba and hopefully, in their scheme, finish the clergyman’s political career by driving home a point that he says things he does not believe in.
According to the sources, the Supreme Court will use one of the recent cases involving a Lusaka lawyer Nsunka Sambo and his client Victor Chilekwa as precedence in punishing Dr Mumba. The duo was sentenced to jail for contempt.
Sambo and Chilekwa were jailed for three years by the Supreme Court on March 30, 2010, for allegedly writing insulting letters to the bench when they complained of bias. Rupiah Banda, then President of Zambia, pardoned them.
Dr Mumba’s potential jail sentence could begin on August 21 when judge Marvin Mwanamwambwa is set to hear the matter.
The Times of Zambia has since reported that PF Eastern province secretary Banda has moved a motion in the Supreme Court to have Dr Mumba cited for contempt of court.
In his notice of motion, Banda stated that Dr Mumba should be committed to prison for making scandalous attacks upon the Supreme Court’s judgments nullifying the election of former Petauke Central Member of Parliament (MP) Dora Siliya.
Banda, who had petitioned the election, said the statements uttered by the alleged contemnor constituted contempt of the Supreme Court in accordance with Order 52/4/1 of the White Book as read with rule 1 of the same order.
Banda of 366 Kanjoka road, Petauke, contended that Dr Mumba’s attacks were contemptuous because his accusations were unsubstantiated.
Dr Mumba on June 30 issued a statement in which he stated that the Zambian people were aware that the scheme to deplete the opposition numbers in parliament was hatched by the PF in October 2011 after they won the elections.
Dr Mumba stated that “the PF petitioned almost all 55 seats won by the MMD in the 2011 general elections in the hope to have them nullified…several of these petitions were won at the High Court level, but the State appealed to the Supreme Court against the lower court’s rulings.”
Banda further stated that the alleged contemnor’s remarks were also published in the Post newspaper dated July 1 , 2013, under the headline ‘PF using Supreme Court to Deplete Opposition….Nevers Questions Ruling on Dora’.
He said Dr Mumba on Radio Phoenix programme ‘Let the People Talk’, on July 2, again charged that the nullification of elections of Ms Siliya, Malambo’s Maxwell Mwale and Chipata Central for Reuben Phiri was an indication that the Supreme Court was being controlled by the PF.
“That the alleged contemnor also charged during the radio programme that acting chief justice Lombe Chibesakuna had been given a mandate by the PF to deplete the opposition in Zambian politics, and cautioned that Ms Justice Chibesakunda had paid a high price to be where she is and losing her name through the PF’s scheme will be very bad,” Dr Mumba is alleged to have said.
Banda submitted that Dr Mumba’s move showed a strong case for criminal contempt of court and that the contempt ought to be punished by committal, with costs to the appellants.