Tribunal date set

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ia by andrew Miti on 5/28/13


SOLICITOR-GENERAL Musa Mwenye has said the tribunal appointed to hear evidence over alleged professional misconduct involving three judges will officially start sitting on June 18, this year.

And two retired High Court judges, Naboth Mwanza and Thomas Ndhlovu appointed by President Michael Sata to hear evidence of the alleged professional misconduct of the three Judges have refused to recuse themselves from the panel.

“Yes I can confirm that the final date has been set for the tribunal to start, which is June 18, this year and that the two judges who were asked to recuse themselves will be part of the panel,” Mr Mwenye said.

He said in an interview yesterday that the tribunal in preliminaries gave an opportunity to all parties involved to hear their submissions and objections, adding that the guidelines given were that both Justices Ndhlovu and Mwanza should be part of the panel.

Supreme Court Judge Phillip Musonda and High Court judges Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga had alleged that the two retired judges had issues with the trio and feared they might not receive a fair hearing.

The trio was placed on suspension by President Sata to pave the way for investigations, but they decided to seek judicial review.

Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda on May 9, this year delivered a majority judgment to the effect that Mr Sata was within his powers to suspend the judges and to subsequently appoint a tribunal to probe them.

Mr Mwenye said the two judges had made it clear that this was a different task compared to what had been raised, and that they saw no reason to recuse themselves from the panel since the guidelines were straightforward.

The trio, in their notice of intention to raise a preliminary issue before the tribunal’s preliminary hearing, contended that Judge Ndhlovu had refused to surrender his office to Justice Musonda after his retirement and forced himself in a situation which made him bitter.

They also prayed that the tribunal should be reconstituted preferably by judges nominated by the Commonwealth Judges and Magistrates Association.

They further said Judge Mwanza was senior resident magistrate at a time Justice Musonda worked under him in Ndola and that the duo used to quarrel a lot, and that at the Industrial Relations Court when Judge Mwanza was chairperson and Judge Musonda fired his driver, he reinstated him, leading to another bitter quarrel.

“That Justice Musonda became his supervising judge, and Judge Mwanza was not happy with this reversal of seniority between them.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the two members of the tribunal ought to recuse themselves from sitting under Article 98 (5) of the Constitution,” they said.

They said the observance of rules of natural justice and the adage that ‘justice must not only be done but be seen to be done’ was cardinal in upholding their fundamental right to receive a fair trial under the Constitution,