Last week, I was among the people who attended the Supreme Court hearing in the laughable case of contempt of court involving Rainbow Newspaper managing editor Derrick Sinjela whose only offence was to question the suspicious judgment in the Savenda Management Services versus Stanbic Bank matter.
I must state that I was disappointed with the conduct of the bench, particularly deputy Chief Justice Marvin Mwanamwambwa who clearly showed his bias in the matter and left all of us wondering whether there was any true justice to expect from a group of people who had come up with a judgment even before trial commenced.
For those of us who have followed the Savenda versus Stanbic Bank matter from the beginning, Sinjela’s newspaper did a commendable job in writing about the case which had generated much public interest.
His only offence was that, in the articles, he was not praising the judges and their favoured scandalous company Stanbic Bank.
As a patriotic Zambian, Sinjela was trying to enlighten the Zambian people about how a multinational bank, with a history of scandals in every country it has operated, was determined to squeeze a company that has heavily contributed to Zambia’s GDP during its over 20 years of existence.
It is not in dispute that Stanbic Bank had maliciously and negligently reported Savenda Management Services to the Credit Reference Bureau for allegedly defaulting on a loan facility which the company was duly servicing.
But because of an internal system breakdown, the payments were going into a suspense account. This is something that Stanbic Bank even admitted in writing.
This is what Sinjela was informing the Zambian readers about, but in the process of doing so and exposing how Supreme Court judges had been bribed by Stanbic Bank to rule against Savenda, the anti-corruption activist injured the ego of some people who think they are untouchable, hence his unjustifiable contempt of court case.
The behavior of some judges in the Judiciary is one that should now draw the attention of President Edgar Lungu to act decisively.
That is why I should even commend your online publication for the timely advice you gave to President Lungu to take action following the Social Cash Transfer saga.
The Judiciary just needs a thorough cleanup and this is a matter that the president must deal with as a matter of urgency.
It is now very clear that some judges of the Supreme Court are openly biased in the way they have handled the Stanbic Bank versus Savenda Management Services matter which was earlier ably presided over by Lusaka High Court Judge (Commercial Division) Justin Chashi in September 2016.
I could not believe the drama that took place in the Supreme Court during the Kangaroo court trial of another anti-corruption activist Gregory Cifire.
I am glad that the Supreme Court circus was also attended by Law Association of Zambia president Eddie Mwitwa who must have buried his head in shame as he listened to the disgraced judges humiliating the three lawyers who had exhibited rare courage by representing Cifire.
Lawyers are friends of the court, so there is no need to bully them when they decide to represent a client. The judges were even boasting that they have been at the bar for more than 20 years and so there was no need for the lawyers to lecture them on points of law.
One doesn’t need to pass an exam to be appointed judge. Anyone can be appointed Supreme Court judge if it so pleases the appointing authority. So there should be no need to insult the intelligence of lawyers who represent their clients.
Being a judge does not make one more competent than a lawyer representing a client.
In any case, is there need for judges to get angry when talking to lawyers who are genuinely seeking the guidance of the court on whether a matter before them is either criminal or civil in nature?
How, on earth, could those judges even question Cifire about how much Savenda had “paid” him to allegedly scandalize the judges for their suspicious judgment which, as it later turned out, was motivated by pieces of silver which Stanbic Bank bribed them with, using well-known notorious lawyer Eric Silwamba?
You expect judges to always exhibit neutrality in their conduct. When people say “as sober as a judge”, they mean judges should always conduct themselves with the very maximum of sobriety.
If a judge can take a position and allege that Savenda had paid Cifire for him to question the suspicious judgment, what kind of justice do you expect from the Supreme Court in any matter where Savenda has been mentioned?
It is injustice of the highest degree for the judges to seem to side with Stanbic Bank which had a dispute with Savenda in court.
So, if commenting on a judgment that has already been rendered is contempt of court, it follows that even students at the University of Zambia School of Law and the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education should be stopped from discussing judgments in their studies.
Why should it be that the law on applies when the comments on a judgment do not please the judges?
When the comments please them, as lawyer John Sangwa did, there is no contempt of court.
This is absolutely ridiculous.
So when people accuse some Supreme Court judges of having been bribed, they are on firm ground and they must not be shut up by bringing questionable contempt of court charges against them.
With these contempt of court charges, the Supreme Court has found itself in a very difficult situation that has never happened before: the complainants are the judges, the prosecutors are the judges, the witnesses are the judges and their wives, and the judgment will be delivered by the same judges.
So, the convictions against Cifire and Sinjela do not surprise anyone. They were pre-determined.
Honestly, how do you expect the judges to deliver a judgment against their own prosecution?
What we are witnessing is pure Kangaroo justice!
This is why I am appealing to President Lungu to appoint a task force to conduct a lifestyle audit of some of the judges who have been accused of corruption.
They are filthily rich because of the money they have been receiving to pass judgments like they did in the Stanbic Bank versus Savenda matter.
Not all of them are dirty. But the few corrupt ones have tarnished the name of other hardworking and honest judges. It is high time President Lungu took action.