Verbatim: what opposition said on suspension of judges

A JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY PRESIDENTS OF OPPOSITION PARTIES ON THE SUSPENSION AND TRIAL BY TRIBUNAL OF JUDGES, 3RD MAY 2010

FELLOW  ZAMBIANS,

THERE COMES A TIME IN A NATION’S HISTORY, WHEN ALL ITS PEOPLE, HAVE TO COME TOGETHER FOR A CAUSE THAT IS SO CRITICAL, AND SO DEAR TO THE WELL BEING OF A NATION.

THIS WAS DONE IN THE RUN UP TO 1964 WHEN ALL ZAMBIANS, REGARDLESS OF THEIR BACKGROUND, CAME TOGETHER, TO FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE.

SIMILARLY IN 1990, THE NATION RALLIED BEHIND A CAUSE TO BRING BACK MULTI-PARTY POLITICS, AFTER ALMOST TWO DECADES OF A ONE-PARTY STATE.

A DECADE LATER, IN 2001 AND IN PURSUANCE OF CONSOLIDATING OUR DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND THE RULE OF LAW, ZAMBIA, ONCE AGAIN ROSE AND FOUGHT AGAINST THE THIRD TERM BID.

FELLOW ZAMBIANS,

TODAY, WE MEET ONCE AGAIN, AS WE DID IN THE PAST, FOR A CAUSE SO DEAR THAT IT CALLS UPON ALL ZAMBIANS ACROSS ALL POLITICAL LINES, RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION AND TRIBE TO COME TOGETHER.

HISTORY HAS SHOWN THAT THE STABILITY OF ANY SOCIETY CANNOT LAST LONG WITHOUT A FREE ARBITRATION SYSTEM BEING THE CORNERSTONE IN THAT SOCIETY. IN A DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM, SUCH AS OURS, WE RECOGNISE THE EXECUTIVE, THE LEGISLATURE AND THE JUDICIARY AS THE THREE ARMS OF GOVERNMENT. SOME SCHOLARS HAVE EVEN ARGUED THAT THE JUDICIARY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT OF THE THREE. THIS IS BECAUSE THE JUDICIARY ACTS AS AN INDEPENDENT REFEREE BETWEEN THOSE ENTRUSTED BY THE PEOPLE, TO GOVERN THEM, THAT IS THE EXECUTIVE AND THE PEOPLE THEY ARE GOVERNING.

FELLOW ZAMBIANS,

IT WAS WITH GREAT SHOCK AND A SENSE OF GRAVE CONCERN THAT WE RECEIVED THE NEWS OF THE SUSPENSION OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICE PHILIP MUSONDA AND TWO JUDGES FROM THE HIGH COURT, JUSTICE CHARLES KAJIMANGA AND JUSTICE NIGEL MUTUNA.

THE MANNER AND SPEED BY WHICH PRESIDENT SATA TOOK THE DECISION TO SUSPEND THE JUDGES, SHORTLY AFTER A CRUCIAL JUDGEMENT BY ONE OF THE JUSTICES, CONCERNING THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION, RAISES SERIOUS QUESTIONS ON THE SEPARATION OF POWERS IN ZAMBIA AND ESPECIALLY THE SACROSANCT NATURE OF ITS INDEPENDENCE. 

 FELLOW ZAMBIANS

EVEN THOUGH THE CURRENT CONSTITUTION, IN ARTICLE 98 PROVIDES FOR THE PRESIDENT TO APPOINT A TRIBUNAL FOR A PERCEIVED ERRING JUDGE, DECISIONS OF THIS NATURE, ALL OVER THE WORLD, ARE EXCEPTIONALLY RARE.

SUCH DRASTIC DECISIONS MUST ONLY BE ENTERTAINED AFTER THOROUGH REFLECTION AND DUE CONSIDERATION OF ANY POSSIBLE AND PERMANENT DAMAGE TO THE INTEGRITY AND INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY. THIS DAMAGE COULD LEAD TO A PERMANENT EROSION OF CONFIDENCE IN THE JUDICIARY BY ALL OUR CITIZENS.

IN VIEW OF THIS, THE FRAMERS OF OUR CURRENT CONSTITUTION PROVIDED IN ARTICLE 91/ SUB ARTICAL 2, A PROCESS IN ORDER TO BALANCE AND CHECK THE EXCESSES OF PRESIDENTIAL POWERS AND LIMITED HIS INVOLVEMENT IN JUDICIAL MATTERS, UNTIL ALL INTERNAL PROCESSES HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED. THESE PROCESSES INCLUDE A REPORT ON AN ERRING JUDICIAL OFFICER TO THE JUDICIAL COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY AS PER JUDICIAL CODE OF CONDUCT ACT NUMBER 13 OF 1999 AND AS AMENDED BY ACT NUMBER 13 OF 2006. ONLY WHEN THE CHIEF JUSTICE FEELS THAT THE MISCONDUCT IS TOO GRAVE, DOES HE SEND A REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR A TRIBUNAL TO BE SET UP, AS PROVIDED FOR IN ARTICLE 98.

IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE, IT IS CLEAR THAT THE INTERNAL JUDICIAL PROCESSES HAVE NOT BEEN FULLY COMPLIED WITH NOR EXHAUSTED.

FELLOW ZAMBIANS,

WE, AS OPPOSITION PARTIES, WISH TO PUT ON RECORD THAT WE FULLY SUPPORT THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION. WE ALSO STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT THERE IS NEED FOR GENUINE JUDICIAL REFORMS.

THIS IS WHY OUR ACTION TODAY MUST NOT BE SEEN AS TOLERATING ANY SHORT COMINGS IN THE JUDICIARY BUT THAT WE WILL DEFEND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY. THIS IS WHY WE WILL NOT SUPPORT INTERFERENCE IN THE JUDICIARY UNDER THE PRETEXT OF FIGHTING CORRUPTION.

HOWEVER, ARBITRARY AND FRAGMENTED EXECUTIVE DECISIONS MUST NOT BE TAKEN WHICH GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT THE PRESIDENT IS SEEKING TO PROTECT PARTISAN INTEREST, HIS FRIENDS AND ALLIES.

IT IS UNIMAGINABLE THAT A JUDGE CAN BE PUNISHED FOR PROTECTING TAX PAYERS MONEY, ZMK14 BILLION, OWED TO THE DEVELOPMENT BANK OF ZAMBIA BY THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTION, MR NCHITO, AND HIS COLLEAGUES. IT IS ALSO UNIMAGINABLE THAT MR SATA AND HIS OFFICIALS CAN INSTRUCT DBZ TO WITHDRAW THE CASE BEFORE THE BANK REALISES THE 14 BILLION ON BEHALF OF THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE.

AN IMPRESSION HAS CLEARLY BEEN CREATED THAT MR SATAS DECISION TO SUSPEND THE JUDGES IS TO PROTECT HIS FRIENDS, THE DPP, MR NCHITO AND HIS COLLEAGUES. IF THE PRESIDENT WISHED TO PROTECT THE DPP, MR NCHITO, AFTER THE JUDGEMENT AGAINST HIM, THERE ARE OTHER AVENUES THAT COULD HAVE BEEN FOLLOWED, SUCH AS AN APPEAL TO THE SUPREME COURT OR EVEN INDEED THE JUDICIAL COMPLAINTS AUTHORITY.

AND IN FACT, IF THE PRESIDENT WAS INDEED COMMITTED TO THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, HE SHOULD HAVE INSTITUTED A TRIBUNAL, FOLLOWING THE JUDGEMENT AGAINST THE DPP, MR NCHITO, AS THIS HAS BROUGHT THE OFFICE WHICH HE HOLDS IN DISREPUTE. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE JUDGEMENT AGAINST MR NCHITO IS SUBJECT TO AN APPEAL OR NOT, THE DPP IS THE CUSTODIAN OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND MR NCHITO MUST RESIGN AND GIVE WAY TO INVESTIGATIONS UNTIL HE IS CLEARED.

WE ARE ALSO ALL AWARE, AS IT WAS WIDELY REPORTED, OF THE DPPS MISCONDUCT WHEN HE ALLEGEDLY FORGED THE SIGNATURE OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICE GREGORY PHIRI

WE ARE ALSO AWARE THAT THE LAW ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA VERY RECENTLY COMPLAINED OVER SOME JUDGE, BUT TO DATE, NO TRIBUNAL HAS BEEN SET UP AGAINST  THIS JUDGE.

CAN THIS NOT THEREFORE BE DEEMED TO BE SELECTIVE COURSE OF ACTION BY MR SATA?

THE FAILURE BY THE PRESIDENT TO INSTITUTE TRIBUNALS IN THE ABOVE EXAMPLES, CONFIRMS THE COMMON BELIEF, THAT MR SATA’S ‘ALLERGY’ TO CORRUPTION IS FAKE, INSENCERE AND ONLY TARGETED AT CITIZENS WHOM HE DOES NOT LIKE OR THOSE HE PERCEIVES TO BE HIS ENEMIES.

THE PUBLIC IS WELL AWARE THAT MR MUTEMBO NCHITO, NCHIMA NCHITO AND MR FRED MMEMBE OF THE POST OWE DEVELOPMENT BANK OF ZAMBIA ZMK14 BILLION.

MANY ZAMBIANS SPEND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS AFTER BORROWING FROM A BANK AND WHEN ORDINARY ZAMBIANS DON’T PAY, THE BAILIFFS AND THE LAW COME CALLING.  WHY IS IT, THEN, THAT THE NCHITO BROTHERS AND MR MMEMBE SEEM TO BE ABOVE THE LAW? CAN MR SATA TELL THE ZAMBIANS WHEN 14 BILLION KWACHA WILL BE REPAID SO THAT THE GOVERNMENT CAN PUT MORE MONEY IN THE POCKETS OF THE YOUTH?

DEAR CITIZENS

WE ARE ALSO SUSPICIOUS OF THE APPOINTMENT OF THE JUDGE FROM MALAWI AS CHAIRMAN OF THE TRIBUNAL. THIS IS MUCH MORE SO, SHORTLY AFTER ZAMBIA’S UNPRECEDENTED DONATION TO THAT COUNTRY OF ZMK26 BILLION WORTH OF FUEL. IT IS CLEAR THAT MALAWI IS INDEBTED TO MR SATA AND CANNOT ACT INDEPENDENTLY IN A MATTER INVOLVING ZAMBIA.  WHAT IS EVEN MORE SUSPICIOUS IS THAT A DEPUTY MINISTER IN THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT, HON. EDGAR LUNGU HAS GONE TO MALAWI TO DELIVER THE APPOINTMENT LETTER. WHAT OTHER VERBAL MESSAGE IS HE CARRYING TO THE MALAWIAN JUDGE?

WE HAVE THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS:

FIRST, WHAT CONSULTATIONS TOOK PLACE WITHIN SADC AND THE COMMONWEALTH LEGAL FRAMEWORK TO SELECT THE MALAWIAN JUDGE? WHAT VALUE, IF ANY, IS MR SATA PLACING ON OUR SUPREME COURT JUSTICE PHILIP MUSONDA IF HE WILL BE TRIED BY A MALAWIAN HIGH COURT JUDGE?

WE CAN ONLY DEDUCE THAT MR SATA IS TRYING TO SEND A MESSAGE, TO THE BENCH, THAT HIS OFFICER AND FRIEND, THE DPP, MR NCHITO, IS ABOVE THE JUDGES AND THAT THEY MUST BE FRIGHTENED WHENEVER HE APPEARS BEFORE THEM. OTHERWISE WHY HAS MR SATA NOT INSTITUTED DISCIPLINARY MEASURES AGAINST MR NCHITO FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT BY WALKING OUT ON A JUDGE AS AN OFFICER OF THE COURT? 

WHAT WE SEE INSTEAD IS JUDGES BEING PUNISHED FOR EXERCISING THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY.

WE ARE ALSO AWARE THAT IN SPITE OF THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE BEING AGAINST EXECUTIVE INTERFERENCE IN THE JUDICIARY, HE WAS OVERSTEPPED BY THE DPP, MR NCHITO, HIS JUNIOR, WHO WENT STRAIGHT TO MR SATA TO SCHEME THE SUSPENSION OF THE JUDGES AND PARTICIPATED FULLY IN THE SELECTION OF THE TRIBUNAL. THIS IS THE WORST CASE OF BAD GOVERNANCE.

WE ARE ALSO QUESTIONING THE DPP, MR NCHITOS NOLLE PROSEQUI IN THE FRAUD CASE OF MR MATHANI, OF WHICH THE BANK OF ZAMBIA CLEARLY STIPULATED THE NUMEROUS BREACHES BY MR MATHANI. HOW HAVE THESE BREACHES SUDDENLY DISAPPEARED?

WE AND THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE WISH TO KNOW? HOWEVER, WE ARE ALSO AWARE THAT MR NCHITO AND MR MMEMBE ALSO OWE FINANCE BANK OF MR MATHANI CLOSE TO ZMK20 BILLION. IS THIS ANOTHER WAY OF PAYING BACK THEIR DEBT?

IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT THE SUSPENSION OF THE THREE JUDGES IS PURELY BECAUSE THEY ARE VIEWED BY MR SATA AND HIS ALLIES TO HAVE CONNIVED FOR JUSTICE MUTUNA TO PASS THE JUDGEMENT AGAINST THE DPP. THE SUSPENSIONS ARE PART OF A CONSPIRACY TO CREATE FEAR IN THE JUDICIARY AND ALL GOVERNANCE INSTITUTIONS.

THIS CONSPIRACY TO CREATE FEAR HAS ALREADY BEEN REFLECTED BY THE LUKEWARM INITIAL REACTION FROM LAZ OVER SUCH AN ASSAULT ON THE JUDICIARY AND DEMOCRACY IN ZAMBIA. WE HAVE EXAMPLES OF PAKISTAN AND BOTSWANA WHERE THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM ROSE TO PROTECT ITSELF FROM EXECUTIVE INTERFERENCE BY REJECTING THE SUSPENSION OF JUDGES. THEY DOWNED TOOLS AND TOOK TO THE STREET.

MORE RECENTLY, THE US PRESIDENT BARRACK OBAMA CAME UNDER HEAVY ATTACK FOR MERELY MAKING A COMMENT SEEN AS INTENDED TO INFLUENCE A JUDICIAL DECISION.

THIS IS WHAT WE EXPECT TO SEE IN OUR LEGAL FRATERNITY IN ZAMBIA; THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE INTIMIDATED. AS ONE AMERICAN PRESIDENT ONCE SAID, ‘WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR BUT FEAR IT SELF.’

FELLOW  ZAMBIANS

 

ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA,

WE REJECT THE APPOINTMENT OF THE HIGH COURT JUDGE FROM MALAWI AND DEMAND THAT IF ANY TRIBUNAL IS SET UP, IT MUST BE DONE AFTER EXHAUSTION OF THE LAID-DOWN ZAMBIAN JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND CONSULTATION WITH SADC, COMMONWEALTH AND THE UN LEGAL AGENCIES.

WE ALSO DEMAND THAT THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TAKES AN ACTIVE ROLE IN PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF THE JUDGES AND ALL CITIZENS.

WE REJECT THE COMPOSITION OF THE TRIBUNAL ANNOUNCED BY MR SATA AS WE FEEL THEY ARE COMPROMISED SINCE THE DPP, MR NCHITO AND MR MMEMBE, BOTH INTERESTED PARTIES, PARTICIPATED IN THEIR SELECTION.

WE DEMAND THAT MR NCHITO, THE DPP, MUST RESIGN IN THE INTEREST OF JUSTICE. THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY ALLEGATIONS AGAINST HIM, BRINGING DISREPUTE TO THE OFFICE OF THE DPP, WHICH ANCHORS THE WHOLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN ZAMBIA.

WE ALSO DEMAND THAT THE PRESIDENT SETS UP A TRIBUNAL TO DEAL WITH ALL ALLEGATIONS AGAINST MR MUTEMBO NCHITO INCLUDING ALLEGED DEFRAUDING OF THE DBZ, ZAMBIAN AIRWAYS, NATIONAL AIRPORTS AND NAPSA.

WE ALSO DEMAND THAT DBZ COLLECTS MONIES IT IS OWED BY MR NCHITO AND MR MMEMBE ON BEHALF OF THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE. THIS WILL ALSO PROTECT INVESTMENT BY MINORITY SHAREHOLDERS IN THE DBZ AND ALSO SAFEGUARD OUR CREDIT CULTURE. FURTHERMORE, A PRECEDENT MUST NOT BE SET WHERE ALL THOSE WHO ARE INDEBTED TO DBZ AND OTHER INSTITUTIONS BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO PAY THEIR DEBTS AS LONG AS THEY ARE FRIENDS OF MR SATA. THIS WILL NEGATIVELY IMPACT CONFIDENCE IN THE BANKING AND COMMERCIAL SECTORS.

WHILE WE UPHOLD AND APPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE OF AN INDEPENDENT MEDIA IN OUR DEMOCRACY, WE ALSO DEMAND THAT AN INDEPENDENT INQUIRY IS IMMEDIATELY SET UP, COMPRISING EMINENT CITIZENS, TO INVESTIGATE THE CONDUCT OF MR MMEMBE AND THE POST NEWSPAPER FOR UNDUE INFLUENCE OF GOVERNMENT LEADERS AND MANIPULATIVE ATTACKS ON THE JUDICIARY, BORDERING ON CONTEMPT OF COURT. OUR CALL FOR THIS INQUIRY IS IN LIGHT OF RECENTLY REVEALED ABUSE BY THE MEDIA IN THE CASE OF NEWS OF THE WORLD IN THE UK.

WE, THE OPPOSITION LEADERS, ARE COMMITTED ON BEHALF AND WITH ALL ZAMBIANS, TO FIGHT THE ABUSE OF OFFICE BY PRESIDENT SATA. SINCE HE HAS BEEN IN OFFICE, HE HAS ABUSED THE PRESIDENCY AND BREACHED THE CONSTITUTION SEVERAL TIMES. THE LATEST ASSAULT ON DEMOCRACY BY INTERFERING IN THE JUDICIARY UNDER THE GUISE OF FIGHTING CORRUPTION IS THE LAST STRAW.

WE WILL FIGHT THIS ABUSE PASSIONATELY BY ENGAGING THE LEGAL FRATERNITY, CHURCHES, UNIONS,  NGOS AND OTHER CITIZENS.

WE WILL ALSO BEGIN IMMEDIATE DIALOGUE WITH OUR COOPERATING PARTNERS. IT IS OUR STRONG VIEW THAT BAD GOVERNANCE NEGATIVELY AFFECTS INVESTMENT AND LONG TERM ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AN AREA IN WHICH DONORS HAVE A GREAT STAKE IN.

WE ARE ALL ENGAGING OUR MPS TO PASS A SPECIAL RESOLUTION TO REVIEW THE APPOINTMENT OF MR NCHITO AS DPP. WE ARE ALL CONVINCED THAT ALL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, AS FREE THINKERS REPRESENTING THEIR VOTERS AND IN LIGHT OF RECENT EVENTS, CANNOT SUPPORT THE CURRENT DPP.

SINCE PRESIDENT SATA ASSUMED OFFICE IN SEPTEMBER 2011, HE HAS SHOWN BLATANT DISREGARD OF THE CONSTITUTION, PRESIDENTIAL ETIQUETTE AND COMMON CIVILITY, WITH CONTINUED VERBAL ABUSE OF CITIZENS. IN MANY COUNTRIES THESE WOULD BE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT, AN OPTION THAT WILL CONTINUE TO REMAIN OPEN TO US.

FELLOW CITIZENS

THERE COMES A TIME IN A NATION’S HISTORY WHEN ALL ITS PEOPLE MUST COME TOGETHER AND RISE TO DEFEND THE COMMON GOOD. THAT TIME HAS COME AGAIN AND IT IS NOW.

WE REMAIN RESOLVED AS OPPOSITION LEADERS, NOT TO SIT BACK AND WATCH MR SATA DESTROY THE VERY INSTITUTIONS MEANT TO PROTECT CITIZENS.

ZAMBIA HAS ALWAYS BEEN ADMIRED AS A COUNTRY WITH HUMBLE AND MEASURED LEADERSHIP THAT PROMOTES PEACE BOTH WITHIN ZAMBIA AND IN THE REGION.

USING ALL PEACEFUL MEANS AVAILABLE TO US, WE WILL DEFEND THIS STATUS TO THE END

THANK YOU.

OPPOSITION PRESIDENTS IN ATTENDANCE, 3RD MAY, 2012

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