PARTIES in the impeachment case of President Edgar Lungu now want to settle the matter out of court. This is in a matter where two Lusaka residents Robert Chabinga and Henry Mulenga have sued the state in the Lusaka High Court over the decision by Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini to table the impeachment motion of President Lungu before Parliament. When the matter came up before High Court judge Annessie Banda-Bobo, Chabinga and Mulenga sought an adjournment as the parties wanted to seek an ex curia settlement (out of court).
Attorney General Likando Kalaluka did not oppose to the application by the applicants and confirmed to the court that, that was the position as they had engaged in discussions. Justice Banda-Bobo therefore, set July 26 as date of briefing on the ex curia adjournment sought by the parties.
Justice Banda Bobo had last year ordered that the impeachment motion presented before Parliament to be halted.
In her ex parte order for leave to apply for judicial review granted to the applicants on April 4, 2018, the court stopped the Speaker from tabling the motion pending determination of the matter or any further direction by the court.
According to an affidavit for an application for leave to apply for judicial review Chabinga and Mulenga argued that the decision by Dr Matibini to table the impeachment motion, whose grounds are based on matters that are before the court, is illegal, unreasonable, and procedurally improper.
The duo argued that although members of parliament enjoy the freedom of speech and have privileges and immunities of their debate in the National Assembly, Parliament is not meant to shield itself with privileges which undermine the construction in accordance with its mandate to exercise its power.
It further stated that the motion was illegal, null and void because the Speaker should not have entertained receipt and notice of matters that were pending determination under various causes before the courts, or indeed were not of sufficient gravitas to warrant the impeachment of a sitting President.
They applicants claimed that Parliament could be challenged in court when it made decisions that impinged on constitutionality and that the National Assembly was not meant to shield itself with privileges which glaringly undermined the Constitution.
Chabinga and Mulenga said the Speaker’s decision to table the motion was unreasonable insofar as the Speaker should have known that some of the issues were irrelevant as they related to decisions made by independent organisations such as Kawambwa Tea and ZAFFICO operating under the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), which entities were audited by the Auditor General and were therefore, accountable to the central treasury.
The two further contended the motion that was raised to impeach the Head of State was unreasonable because all the signatories who appended their signatures were members of the UPND, hence the Speaker should have exercised reasonable observation of partisanry.
In granting leave to the applicants justice Bobo-Banda had stated that the leave would operate as a stay of Dr Matibini’s decision to table the notice of motion dated March 28 presented by Mazubuka UPND lawmaker Gary Nkombo and former Roan PF member of parliament Chishimba Kambwili pending the the final determination of the matter.
Chabinga and Mulenga are represented by Hobday Kabwe, Lewis Mosho and Kanja Mpundu.