PRESS STATEMENT No. 67 OF 2017: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1. A week ago, the Patriots for Economic Progress wrote to the Chief Justice of Zambia to query the illegal suspension of a Livingstone based Magistrate, Honourable Benjamin Mwelwa from duty. Two days ago, we received a response from the Honourable Chief Justice as per attached hereto.
2. The position of the Patriots for Economic Progress with regard to the response of the Honourable Chief Justice to our query, is that we do not agree with her position in two material respects.
3. Firstly, the Chief Justice claims that a Chief Registrar has powers to suspend a judicial officer prior to the determination of a disciplinary matter by the Judicial Service Commission. Our position is that a Chief Registrar does not have any such power as the powers of a Chief Registrar are clearly outlined in section 8 of the Judicial Administration Act of 2016. We therefore challenge the Honourable Chief Justice to indicate the law on which she is basing her assertion that a Chief Registrar has powers to suspend a judicial officer such as a magistrate.
4. The second issue that we have with regard to the response from the Honourable Chief Justice is the tone adopted in the second last paragraph of the letter attached hereto. The Patriots for Economic Progress holds the office of the Chief Justice in very high esteem, as we believe that anyone occupying that position is the custodian of integrity in our society.
5. It is for this reason that we find it very regrettable that the Chief Justice accused the suspended magistrate of soliciting us to speak on his behalf on this matter. We also resent the baseless insinuation that our political party, the Patriots for Economic Progress is a hired gun used to fight people’s personal battles. Our interest in this matter is to ensure that the rule of law prevails, and that those with high positions of authority do not trample on the rights of those who are lower in the food chain.
6. We further wish to take this opportunity to appeal to the Honourable Chief Justice to avoid making wild and baseless allegations against other persons and/or organizations. Her tone should be distinguishable from that of a political party cadre. We have since requested the Honourable Chief Justice to retract the second last paragraph of her letter to the Patriots for Economic Progress.
We thank you may God Bless the Republic of Zambia and it’s Great Citizens.
SEAN ENOCK TEMBO (SET)
PATRIOTS FOR ECONOMIC PROGRESS (PeP)