Professor Hansungule says Supreme Court ruling on Tribunal has weakened judiciary

Respected Zambian law scholar Professor Michelo Hansugule says the Supreme Court ruling that allows a tribunal set up by President Michael Sata to go ahead hearing the three suspended judges has effectively weakened the judiciary in the country.

Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda passed one of the most ambiguous Supreme Court ruling when she said President Sata acted within the constitution to suspend three judges but advised against proceeding with the same tribunal due to constitutional issues.

The three judges – Phillip Musonda (Supreme Court), Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna (High Court) – were at the centre of a judgment that found President Sata’s allies Fred M’membe (Post Newspapers owner) and Mutembo Nchito (Director of Public Prosecutions) guilty of defaulting over K18 billion public loan.

Exclusively speaking to Zambia Reports, Prof Hansungule, a lecturer at the University of Pretoria, said while he had not read the actual ruling to give a definite opinion more so he was scheduled for a meeting with the Acting Chief Justice, he still found the judgment wanting.

“If I can say anything out of what I get from media sources, the majority ruling is helping the Executive to weaken the judicial arm of government and I fully understand why senior members of the Executive on the case are celebrating,” the South Africa-based law lecturer said.

“Besides the Kingdom of Swaziland where High Court Judge Thomas Masuku was dismissed for a sentence he wrote about His Majesty the King in his judgment, this is the second case in the region where a judge is being investigated for discharging his functions as by law laid down.”

Prof Hansungule, a strong critic of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) who was given unfettered covered by the PF aligned Post Newspaper which is no longer the case now, said on the basis of the scanty information in public domain, he still cries for his country.

“This is sacred soil for another government branch to carelessly tread on. Article 91 (2) of the Constitution reads:

“(2) The Judges, members, magistrates and justices, as the case may be, of the courts mentioned in clause (1) shall be independent, impartial and subject only to this Constitution and the law and shall conduct themselves in accordance with a code of conduct promulgated by Parliament.

“This is echoed by relevant provisions of international law applicable to Zambia an example of which is Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which enjoins States parties to guarantee independence of their judiciaries.”

Prof Hansungule adds, “…implicit in article 91 (2) above read with 98 (2) (3) and (4) is a duty on the President to carefully and calculatedly weigh his options as he considers invoking any of the sanctions against a judge in this sensitive branch of government.”

Prof Hansungule has promised, after thoroughly studying the heavily criticized and condemned judgment, to issue a comprehensive legal opinion.

Zambia is plunged in fear that with the judiciary sold out to President Sata and his business partners, clearly sacrificing its independence, the country is fast heading into a one party state where opposing views will be crushed with impunity.


  • comment-avatar
    Magna 5 years

    Good analysis dear! In every country, there is a set of laws for the rich en the poor with those moving from the elite class!

  • comment-avatar
    Justice 5 years

    The Constituion of Zambia
    Article 98
    (3) If the President considers that the question of removing a judge of the Supreme Court or of the High Court under this Article ought to be investigated, then

    (a) he shall appoint a tribunal which shall consist of a Chairman and not less than two other members, who hold or have held high judicial office;

    (b) the tribunal shall inquire into the matter and report on the facts thereof to the

    President and advise the President whether the judge ought to be removed from office under this Article for inability as aforesaid or for misbehaviour.

    (4) Where a tribunal appointed under clause (3) advises the President that a judge of the Supreme Court or of the High Court ought to be removed from office for inability, or incompetence or for misbehaviour, the President shall remove such judge from office.

    (5) If the question of removing a judge of the Supreme Court or of the High Court from office has been referred to a tribunal under clause (3), the President may suspend the judge from performing the functions of his office, and any such suspension may at any time be revoked by the President and shall in any case cease to have effect if the tribunal advises the President that the judge ought to be removed from office.

    • comment-avatar
      Dull as usual 5 years

      Nchito and stupid mmembe should have just appealed to the supreme court. This is highly irresponsible of them. A debt is a debt…so you two idiots ensure that the companies you belong to pay back our debt.

  • comment-avatar
    Mangimela Mushima 5 years

    Zambia must treat with honour our traditional chiefs only outcasts can insult their culture.