Court halts Zambia judges tribunal
Zambia President Michael Sata’s initial efforts to bring reforms in the Judiciary have suffered a minor setback after the Lusaka High Court put on hold proceedings of a tribunal he appointed to investigate the alleged misconduct of three senior judicial officials.
President Sata suspended Supreme Court judge Philip Musonda and High Court judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga over their conduct in a civil case involving the Development Bank of Zambia as complainant and The Post Newspapers Limited, Mutembo Nchito and JNC holdings Limited as defendants.
On Wednesday, High Court judge Flugence Chisanga signed an application for the accused judges to seek judicial review in the matter on grounds that the tribunal was “illegal and premature”.
According to court papers, suspended high court judges Mutuna and Kajimanga applied for leave to apply for judicial review in the High Court.
Judge Chisanga made the ruling, granting two judges permission to have their case reviewed, according to an order seen by Africa Review.
“It is hereby ordered that the applications be and are hereby granted leave to apply for judicial review,” Judge Chisanga said.
“And further ordered that the leave so granted shall operate as a stay of the decision of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia to appoint a Tribunal, to suspend the applicants and any adverse measures against the applicants who are citizens of the Republic of Zambia in relation to the performance of their constitutional duties as duly appointed judges serving the High Court of judicature for Zambia pending the full determination of this matter until any further direction by this honourable court.”
The latest position taken by the court means the two judges will continue working as until the matter was determined.
Judge Chisanga set May 30, this year to start hearing the case but can take up to months to conclude.
But Zambia Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu told local media that he was surprised by the development because it was unlawful and in contravention of the state proceedings Act.
“I have ordered the Solicitor General to immediately have that stay revoked on the ground that under section 16 of the state proceedings Act. An iinjunction may not be granted against the state,” Mr Zulu was quoted as saying by the privately owned,The Post.
“An order of stay is in fact a mandatory injunction which ordering that the tribunal should not take off. This is what the law does not allow.”
After setting up the tribunal, President Sata appointed Malawian High Court judge Chikopa to investigate the alleged misconduct of the three judicial officials who is already in the country.