THE high levels of corruption under President Edgar Lungu’s PF government has now metastasized not only in the executive and legislature but also the judiciary, says Savior Chishimba.
Chishimba, who was commenting on the silence by the judiciary and President Lungu following complaints against judge Sunday Nkonde lodged by Dr Fred M’membe and Dr Cosmas Musumali, said it was the Zambian judiciary that was on trial, and not The Post.
Dr M’membe has written to the Judicial Complaints Commission over judge Nkonde’s conduct in the Post liquidation matter.
He earlier wrote to the Chief Justice and judge-in-charge of the commercial court asking that judge Nkonde stops presiding over the matter between Post Newspapers Limited and Andrew Chiwenda and others.
In his letter to the Judicial Complaints Commission (JCC) dated February 10, the celebrated journalist stated that it was gross misconduct for judge Nkonde to sit to determine a matter involving a company he tried to destroy a mere five years ago.
Dr M’membe stated that in spite of not having been eligible to hear the Post matter, judge Nkonde had committed a number of grave due process and procedural aberrations in the current case before him, proving his animus and bad faith towards The Post.
And economist Dr Cosmas Musumali has also written to the Anti-Corruption Commission, calling for an immediate probe of judge Nkonde who has been accused of obtaining K2.5 million public funds from the Tedworth Properties Inc account.
Dr Musumali had earlier petitioned justice Mambilima’s office to probe judge Nkonde for alleged professional misconduct as well as allegations of corruption.
In his letter to the Chief Justice and copied to the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Law Association of Zambia, justice Nkonde, Messrs Simeza Sangwa and Associates and Transparency International Zambia, Dr Musumali contended that judge Nkonde must pay back the K2.5 million he got from the Tedworth account and his conduct be investigated.
“The inaction of the judiciary to discipline judge Sunday Nkonde for failure to recuse himself from the Post Newspaper case has put the judiciary on trial,” Chishimba said. “The Post Newspaper is no longer on trial predominantly because the outcome of the judgment is certain to be predicted on personal interests of the trial judge rather than on material facts and the letters of the law.”
He maintained that there was no way a compromised judge would be allowed to preside over a matter he had interest in and called on judge Nkonde to step down.
“A compromised judge cannot exercise impartiality, which is a key ingredient before any civil or criminal trial. The worst form of corruption that any judge can commit is failure to recuse himself or herself in a case in which he or she has interest, directly or indirectly,” Chishimba said.
“The high levels of corruption under Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s PF administration has now metastasized throughout not only the executive and legislature but also the judiciary. The corrupt practices of judges are like an atomic bomb which once it explodes, the nation can be destroyed beyond measure.”
He said while there were still some men and women of integrity in the judiciary, President Lungu’s appointment of judge Nkonde would destroy the image of the bench.
He challenged the church and civil society organisations to wake up and demand justice in Zambia.
Chishimba reminded the church that it was corrupt judges that ruined ancient kingdom of Israel.
“The people of Zambia, the church and civil society organisations must arise from their slumber and demand justice in Zambia. Our nation needs the voice of CSOs more now than ever before. As a Christian Nation, we ought to learn from the Bible that it was the corruption of judges who destroyed the ancient kingdom of Israel,” said Chishimba. “The moment the people lose confidence in the judiciary, there remains only one option and that option is mass action from the people themselves…At any time, the people can decide to demand that a corrupt regime resigns before the tenure of office because they are the masters.”/SM/JC