9 CSOs ask CJ to cite Chanda for contempt

NINE Civil Society Organisations have asked Chief Justice Irene Mambilima to investigate PF media director Sunday Chanda following his attacks on magistrate Exnorbit Zulu. In their joint letter signed by Alliance for Good Governance executive director Laura Miti, the organisations stated that there was need for Chief Justice Mambilima to act on Chanda’s assault on the judiciary and magistrate Zulu.

“Dear Your ladyship, RE: SUNDAY C. CHANDA’S STATEMENT ON THE JUDICIARY AND MAGISTRATE EXNORBIT ZULU. We write to bring to your attention the captioned subject. Following the Supreme Court of Zambia’s recent citing of Chikondi Foundation president Bishop John H. Mambo, and Mr Gregory Chifire for contempt of court for commenting on a court judgment in the matter of Savenda Management Services Vs Stanbic Bank Limited, a matter that had been duly disposed of, we the undersigned Civil Society Organisations and civic actors are of the view that a precedent has been set in which individuals who comment on matters that have been disposed of, or in court, will be cited for contempt of court,” Miti stated.

“While we, as CSOs, have always been of the view that once a case is disposed of, it is no longer subjudice and therefore those who comment on it are not in contempt of court, we are convinced that the direction the highest court in the land has taken in the Savenda Management Services and Stanbic Bank Limited case must be seen to be applied fairly, until clarity on what constitutes contempt of court is achieved. The statement we bring to your attention attacks the judgment delivered on the Henry Kapoko case by magistrate Zulu and the magistrate himself.”

Miti stated that in the interest of fair play, the CSOs therefore requested justice Mambilima’s office to investigate the statement for possible contempt of court by Chanda. She stated that a copy of the said statement authored and published by Chanda was enclosed for easy reference.
Those that signed the statement include Action Aid executive director Nalucha Nganga Ziba, Caritas Zambia executive director Eugene Kabilika, Non-Governmental Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) executive director Engwase Mwale, Panos Institute Southern Africa executive director Lillian Keifer, Women for Change executive director Lumba Sianga, GEARS executive director McDonald Chipenzi, Zambia Centre Social Director acting executive director Pascal Bwalya and governance activist Pamela Chisanga.
Last week, the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court ordered the arrest of Dr Miti “in the interest of justice” to answer to corruption related charges brought out at the time he served as Ministry of Health PS. Choma-based magistrate Exnorbit Zulu, who was sitting in Lusaka, said it was not too late to present Dr Miti before court to also answer to corruption-related charges.

Magistrate Zulu said this after convicting former Ministry of Health human resources officer Henry Kapoko and four others for theft of over K6.8 million public money when they were employees of the Ministry of Health at the time Dr Miti was permanent secretary.
He further said Dr Miti should answer to corruption charges because he was aware of what was transpiring in the ministry, although he feigned ignorance.

But his commentary titled Persecuting State Witness Dr Simon Miti: Smelly flies in the oil of justice, Chanda wondered what had happened to the principle of natural justice.

“The judiciary here in Zambia has over the years performed its role with dignity and honour and the majority of men and women in this noble profession have unwaveringly dedicated themselves to discharging the sacred duty of justice. However, there are a few flies in the oil and of late there has been a sordid whiff emanating from some quarters of the judiciary that is nauseating the air and space of justice. Take the Choma based magistrate’s pitiful attempts to sully Dr Simon Miti, who was a State witness in the case against Henry Kapoko and four others for instance. Dr Miti was made State Witness by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Chalwe Mchenga and continued to be so, even under Mr Mutembo Nchito. He was cross-examined by the cream of the country’s top drawer of legal brains and as key State Witness; he duly cooperated leading to the Courts securing a conviction in the matter. As a State Witness, Dr Miti appeared before this magistrate and two or three others in this particular case and it’s strange that the magistrate didn’t at the time see the need for Dr Miti to be cross-examined on issues he’s never been charged for,” wrote Chanda.

“It is unbelievably bizarre and outlandish that a State Witness should now be a subject of conviction by a magistrate. Dr Miti has never been cited nor has he ever appeared before court so how did the Choma based magistrate judge him? Whatever happened to the principle of natural justice? When has a judge ever directed who and should not be prosecuted? Something just doesn’t smell right! It stinks! It is a foul unwholesome embarrassment to the judiciary. Dr Miti was never suspended but was sent on leave with full benefits to allow for investigations; he cooperated and was back at work thereafter. The man has never been fired – neither for corruption nor any other offence for that matter, whether real or assumed.

This is a man – a true patriot who has diligently served his country through his service to Heads of State including the late Dr Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba, the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, the late Michael Chilufya Sata and now the incumbent. He has served with honour and devotion for over 15 years making him one of the longest – if not the longest serving Permanent Secretary among his peers. He served the late Mwanawasa faithfully and stayed with him until his death in Paris, France. At what point did late President Mwanawasa fire Dr Miti for corruption as alleged by some moral misfits? Could it be that all the Presidents he served under were victims of poor judgment? Isn’t that just absurd? This whole thing reeks! It is a politically charged personal vendetta against State House and calculated at tainting His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and it forms part of the bigger scheme sponsored by the opposition to attack and discredit the President and those close to him. That should also explain the morbid interest in also soiling the image of State House Permanent Secretary Ms Christa Kalulu….

We ask the magistrate who it is that prosecuted Dr. Miti and who his defence counsel was. It is public knowledge that courts exist to adjudicate on the merits and demerits of the prosecution and never to charge individuals. This is a very strange phenomenon and a rancid embarrassment to the judiciary. It’s extremely shocking that the magistrate charged a person who has never been charged and attempts to convict him together with the people being convicted…This confirms the existence of an agenda to divert the narrative from development gains scored by the PF, in order to embarrass and undermine the current President using fiction and underhand methods by individuals abusing offices, which are expected to be fair in dispensing justice and which are sacred by design.”

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