Sata Suspends Judges, Prompting Concern Over Judicial Independence

During his first-ever press conference this afternoon, President Sata suspended Supreme Court Judge Philip Musonda, and Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna of the High Court.

The President further appointed a Malawian judge Lovemore Chikopa to head the tribunal tasked to investigate the matter.

“I have been under a lot of pressure with this issue, complaints about the judiciary. I have with immediate effect suspended three judges for investigations into their conduct,” he said.

President Sata said the three will be investigated in connection with the cases involving the Development Bank of Zambia, JNC Holdings, Mutembo Nchito and The Post Newspapers Limited.  Separately, in an opinion article published by Given Mutinda on Zambian Watchdog, there were already concerns over the Patriotic Front’s interference in judicial matters, especially with regard to the dismissal of a 14 billion Kwacha loan from the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mutembo Nchito and Editor-in-chief of The Post newspaper Fred M’membe, who had borrowed the money in the past for a failing business, Zambian Airways.

Suspended Supreme Court Judge Phili Musonda says he wants people from outside Zambia to investigate the matter.

And Judge Musonda said he is willing to cooperate with the tribunal that has been appointed to investigate his alleged unprofessional conduct because he has nothing to hide.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Judge Musonda who has been suspended together with Judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna of the High Court, however wondered why the matter was never taken to the judicial complaints authority first.

“First and Foremost, I have been hearing about it for some time, but who investigates? Because I don’t know… I have nothing to hide, because all I know is that there has been a lot of fabricated stories, and as long as we have a very very impartial tribunal at my level as a supreme court judge. I expected the investigators if it’s a tribunal they must be people from outside Zambia and at the Supreme Court level,” Judge Musonda said.

He also confirmed having recived the letter of suspension from President Michael Sata.

“All what I want is a fair hearing, I will be there, because as far as I am concerned I have never done anything wrong. I am just looking at the letter now…

“What I know is that there must be a complaint to the judicial complaints authority, from the judicial complaints authority, they will investigate, the complainant will say his story and I will say my story ok. After that the judicial complaints authority will make a recommendation to the Chief Justice who if he finds that there is need to investigate me by a tribunal, he will recommend to the president to appoint a tribunal,” he said

Asked if he felt that the president had skipped procedure by appointing a tribunal without a recommendation from the Judicial complaints authority through the chief justice, Judge Musonda referred to the constitution of Zambia.

“Read the constitution, article 91 sub article 2 and read the judicial code of conduct, section 20 and 24 sub section 1. What d o they say? The tribunal cannot take up the power of the judicial complaints authority. It has to be the judicial complaints authority first,” Judge Musonda said before he got into a meeting with his lawyer.

Exclusive to Zambia Reports

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