Banned judge visits murder suspect in prison
SUSPENDED Supreme Court judge Philip Musonda last Thursday visited murder suspect Mathew Mohan at Chimbokaila Prison in Lusaka, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Prison records show that Judge Musonda signed in the visitors’ book at 10:00 hours in the morning on his mission to meet Mohan, currently serving a two-and-half-year sentence for theft.
President Sata last week on Monday suspended Judge Musonda and High Court judges Charles Kajimanga and Nigel Mutuna and set up a tribunal to investigate them in the case of Development Bank of Zambia v Post Newspapers Limited, JCN Holdings Limited and Mutembo Nchito.
The Daily Mail can now reveal that Judge Musonda visited Mohan at the prison three days after his suspension.
“The purpose of the visit was to have a meeting with Mohan, who is a convict there,” a source told the Daily Mail.
“Judge Musonda used a male relative to access prison and Mohan but the nature of discussions between him and Mohan remained vague,” the source said.
The meeting was constantly characterised by gestures, with Mohan seemingly disagreeing with the judge, and it lasted 20 minutes before the judge clad in a blue tracksuit bottom walked out.
Judge Musonda wore a baseball cap and a white golf T-shirt when he entered the heavily-secured prison.
According to sources, Mohan may be a key witness in the forthcoming tribunal that shall hear arguments for and against the three suspended judges in due course.
President Sata has appointed a three-member tribunal to investigate the three judges and it will be headed by Malawi High Court judge Lovemore Chikopa. Others are Justice Thomas Ndhlovu and Justice Naboth Mwanza, both retired judges of the High Court of Zambia.
The move has cheered the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) but displeased the opposition, who have been making frantic efforts to circumvent the tribunal.
And the latest backing for President Sata has come from ambassador Darlington Mwape who served as President Levy Mwanawasa’s legal advisor.
In an interview he said: “There is precedence to this matter and late President Mwanawasa did it when he invoked his powers under Article 58 and constituted a tribunal on the proposal to remove the then Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mukelebai.”
He added: “The President is within his powers, we should not think that the Judiciary should not be checked, let us ask two questions: Is it constitutional? Yes. Is it within the powers of the President? Yes. If the two questions are answered in the affirmative, why should people complain about this decision?”
He adds that the security of tenure for judges must not be used as an argument against judges in question and that the matter borders on both legal and governance aspects.
Mr Mwape said the three arms of Government are meant to provide checks and balances to one another, saying the Judiciary must not feel it is above the law.
Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Edgar Lungu yesterday presented Judge Chikopa with an appointment letter for him to chair the tribunal.
Meanwhile, leader of the opposition in Parliament Felix Mutati says his position on President Sata’s decision to set up a tribunal against three judges is the same as that taken by the MMD and other opposition political parties.
Mr Mutati said in a statement yesterday that he would not take an individual position as leader of the opposition in Parliament.
“As leader of opposition in Parliament, I do not take individual positions without consulting my colleagues and the respective expertise Zambia is endowed with in the opposition. My position on the matter remains the same as that of my party the MMD and agreed upon by the opposition parties during a joint press conference on 3rd May 2012,” he said.
He said the Judiciary is a critical arm of Government, whose border with other arms of Government remains important to the country.
Mr Mutati, who is Lunte member of Parliament, said the opposition has a responsibility to uphold, support and defend the independence and integrity of the Judiciary.
“May I take this opportunity to commend your newspaper for the role you have continued to play in informing our people on key national issues,” Mr Mutati said.