Declare the appointment of acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda as illegal – LAZ

Lombe Chibesakunda
acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda

THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has asked the High Court to declare the appointment of acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakuda as illegal, null and void as she has exceeded retirement age and cannot be re-appointed for a second time.
According to a statement of claim filed in the High Court by LAZ president James Banda, the association claims there is a serious breach of the constitution by appointing Justice Chibesakunda as she is over the retirement age.
Mr Banda said Justice Chibesakunda was first appointed as Supreme Court judge in 1997 and that upon reaching her retirement age, she was appointed on contract in April 2009 by the President for a term of three years which expired in April 2012.
He said the President re-appointed Justice Chibesakunda as acting Chief Justice on June 14, 2012, which appointment according to the LAZ, was unlawful as he did not have the power to re-appoint her after her contract had expired.
“The purported appointment of Justice Chibesakunda to office of Chief Justice though subject to ratification, was, therefore, unlawful as she clearly did not and does not qualify to be so appointed owing to the fact that she was older than 65 years at the date of the purported appointment,” Mr Banda said.
Mr Banda said the LAZ wants the court to declare that the re-appointment of Justice Chibesakunda as illegal, null and void and that she should vacate office.
“The constitution may not be used to re-appoint a judge of the High Court to Supreme Court and to a position other than the position that the said judge was ratified upon the first appointment,” Mr Banda said.
He said the association also wants a declaration that the President may not appoint a person who has attained and exceeded the age of 65 years to the office of a judge of the High Court, deputy Chief Justice or Chief Justice.
Mr Banda said the court should declare that Justice Chibesakunda, having attained and exceeded the age of 65 years, does not qualify to hold the substantive office of Chief Justice of Zambia.
He said the LAZ is a professional body that was established to advance the rule of law and ensure rights and liberties.
He said the association has participated in matters where there has been a threat or perceived threat against the rule of law.