Opposition political party leaders this morning continued meeting various stakeholders to present their case on the recent suspension of judges by president Michael Sata.
Sources told the Watchdog that opposition leaders met the Zambia Episcopal Conference as well as the American Ambassador.
Among those who presented their case to the two stakeholders are those from UPND, ULP, ADD, Heritage Party, and MMD.
Opposition parties have so far met with the EU delegation leader, MISA Zambia among others.
The party leaders said they were happy with the discussions with ZEC and the American Ambassador, though some sections of the media are reportedly planning to run stories that they were snubbed at both meetings.
No longer Transparency International Zambia recently refused to meet the opposition leaders because some people in the organization have allegedly been promised jobs in the PF government.
No longer TIZ later claimed they wanted a ‘properly’ written letter for them to meet the opposition leaders despite numerous phone calls for the meeting.
The leaders discussions in today’s meetings were based on the petition below.
Ref: The suspension of judges by the President of Zambia and the setting up of the tribunal.
We believe and recognize that you are a key stakeholder in national issues that have a bearing on the development of our country. We, as concerned citizens and leaders of opposition political parties, feel obliged to brief you and your members on our stance regarding the above subject.
Following our press briefing last Thursday, 3rd May 2012, at Golf View Hotel, on the same matter, a deliberate attempt has been made to portray the opposition as tolerating corruption. Our true position is that we have been and continue to be committed to the fight against corruption. It is our belief that corruption, both in Public and Private sectors, robs the nation of much needed resources for development. We also oppose strongly the abuse of authority for personal or political gain.
As opposition leaders, we wish to put on record our commitment to urgent and genuine judicial reforms. These reforms must include all stakeholders and must be done within a framework by which the outcome is acceptable to all. In this regard, the Judiciary is a key stakeholder. In addition, lawyers, prosecutors, legislators and many others need to be part of the reform process.
Our concern on the issue surrounding the suspension of the three judges is that it has ignored the procedures that are necessary to achieve transparency in trying to remove a sitting judge. Even though the current constitution in article 98 provides for the President to appoint a tribunal for an erring judge, the constitution also provides in article 91/2 for internal judicial processes to be exhausted before a President can intervene. For example, Act 13 of 1999 as amended by Act 13 of 2006 provides for the Judicial Complaints Authority, to which complaints on the misconduct of judges may be submitted. It is only after a report from this Authority, to the Chief Justice, that a President can intervene, as provided for, by article 98. Such misconduct, however, must be of great magnitude rather than one which is based on frivolous concerns. In this particular case, President Michael Sata took a unilateral decision when he suspended the three judges as well as in the appointment of the tribunal. This was done without following and exhausting the laid down procedures.
The decision to suspend the three judges lends itself to speculation, as it comes soon after one of the Judges made a ruling and judgment against the Director of Public Prosecution and two others over ZMK14 Billion they owe the Development Bank of Zambia. In order to justify their interference in the court process, the DPP and his colleagues published some letters in the Post Newspaper of Friday 4th May 2012. In these letters, they make reference to meetings they held with the Minister of Justice over the reallocation of their case from their preferred Judge to another. The Minister is reported to have disclosed certain information to the complainants in the absence of the other party, DBZ, to this case.We find this to be highly irregular and unacceptable conduct by the Minister of Justice. This is why we find it difficult to accept that President Sata can come to the aid of powerful people who have not paid back Taxpayers money owed to the Zambian people. We are aware of copies of letters authored by the Minister of Finance and the Solicitor General, instructing the Development Bank of Zambia to withdraw the case of the ZMK14 Billion debt owed by the DPP and his colleagues. These letters are highly irregular and contradict the corruption message which is being promoted by our President.
We are surprised that the President is showing inconsistency when it comes to the DDP. Whereas he has decided to suspend the three judges on allegations made against them, there are similar allegations against the DPP and yet the President does not want to act. We know what the President has done is incorrect but if he believes it is right, why does he not do the same to the DPP. We believe that there is need for the immediate resignation of the DPP to allow for investigations over his conduct. We believe that the judgment against the DPP and his colleagues, whether they appeal or not, has brought disrepute to the office of the DPP, which anchors the criminal justice system in our country. Subsequently, a tribunal should be appointed to inquire into the conduct of the DPP in regard to the debt owed to DBZ and his impropriety regarding an order by Judge Gregory Phiri. We believe that the allegations concerning the DPP are credible.
We consider the influence exerted by Mr. Fred Mmembe, through his Post newspaper, on the Executive is unprecedented in this country. We place blame on the Executive, especially the Minister of Justice and the President, for willingly succumbing to this pressure. In this regard, we believe there is need for an immediate investigation by a Parliamentary Select Committee in to the conduct of Mr. Fred Mmembe and the Post for undue influence on Government leaders and manipulative attacks on the judiciary boardering on contempt of court. Furthermore, we call upon the appropriate agency, such as MISA Zambia, to inquire into this matter, which may affect ethics in Journalism.
We are concerned that there seems to be an unhealthy set of relationships between the people involved in this saga thus:
(a) Mr. Mutembo Nchito the DPP is a debtor to the Developement Bank of Zambia, Finance Bank Zambia Limited and Dr.Rajan mahthani. These debts are all interrelated and arise from the Zambian Airways debt.
(b) The Finance Minister Mr. Alexander Chikwanda has been accused of abuse of office in the procurement of a single sourced contract to renovate State House. His fate as to whether or not prosecution should follow rests in the hands of the DPP Mr. Nchito.
(c) Finance Bank Zambia Limited has sued the DPP Mr. Nchito and others to pay back the billions of Kwacha which are owed. This case was being prosecuted by SBN Associates but was recently transferred to Messrs. Simeza Sangwa and Associates under the direct charge of Mr. Sangwa who is appearing in a criminal case as co-accused to Dr. Mahthani. The fate of the DPP in this civil case therefore lies in the hands of Dr. Mahthani and Mr. John Sangwa.
(d) Dr. Mahthani was facing at least three court cases of a criminal nature which were at various advanced stages. One of these involving an allegation of having forged a Bank of Zambia letter had reached a stage where Dr. Mahthani and his co-accused Mr. John Sangwa had been put on their defence.
(e) The DPP who owes a lot of money to Dr. Mahthani’s bank has entered nolle prosequis against Dr. Mahthani and his associates in all of these cases.
(f) The Minister of Finance Mr. Alexander Chikwanda whose fate on the allegations of abuse of office regarding the State House renovations, rests on the DPP, has since written a letter that would effectively forgive the DPP Mr. Nchito of the billions of Kwacha he has been adjudged to owe to Development Bank of Zambia.
(g) It is clear that each one of the parties involved have had immense personal and mutual benefit from the decisions made.
We feel that the DPP should never have decided to enter nolle prosequis in the case involving his creditors and bankers. As an institution that looks at transparency we are confident that you will rise to the challenge and question this abuse of the nolle prosequi to benefit ones associates. We recall how you fought against the nolle prosequi that was entered in the case of Dr. Kashiwa Bulaya and trust that you will show the same level of vigilance and tenacity in this matter.
The amounts involved in the present case exceed those that were in the Kashiwa Bulaya matter. In addition the cases that Dr. Mahtrhani was facing had reached very advanced stages unlike the Kashiwa Bulaya matter when the nolle was entered. We trust that you will act as swiftly as you did in the Kashiwa Bulaya matter.
We are surprised that the President is showing inconsistency when it comes to the DPP. Whereas he has decided to suspend the three judges on allegations made against them, there are similarly allegations against the DPP and yet the President does not want to act. To prove that there is no bias on the part of the President regarding this matter of the DPP’s conduct, we challenge the President to be consistent and act against the DPP pending investigations on the allegations made against the DPP.
We, as opposition leaders, remain resolved to provide checks and balances to the duly elected government. As such, we believe that Tax Payers Funds should not be abused to enrich a few in the pretext of fighting corruption. We believe that the President is obliged to come out in the open and state his government’s position on the attempt to cancel the huge DBZ debt, without proper grounds.
Please accept greetings of our highest esteem.