The Lusaka High Court has set March 5 as the date of hearing an application by 47 serving and retired teachers of Chilenje B, Kabwata and Woodlands A Basic School’s Teachers’ Compound to join a matter where their 17 colleagues are challenging government’s decision to evict them from Kabulonga Teachers’ Compound.

In this matter, Emmanuel Daka, Langton Kafuni and others, citing the Attorney General as a respondent, sought judicial review to challenge government’s decision to evict them from the Kabulonga Teachers’ Compound on Twin Palm Road in Lusaka.

In December last year, Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo, his Deputy Permanent Secretary Frazer Musonda and 16 others asked the Court to set aside for irregularity, committal proceedings against them in the matter, arguing that committal proceedings cannot be commenced before contempt has been proved against them.

Lusambo and others also asked Lusaka High Court Judge Mwila Chitabo to discharge leave to commence judicial review proceedings granted to the Kabulonga sitting and retired teachers on grounds that the dispute is not amenable to Judicial Review in accordance with order 53/14/33 of the Rules of the Supreme Court 1999 edition (White Book).

When the matter came up before Justice Chitabo, Monday, the applicants and the respondent in the matter agreed that the matter be adjourned to March 5, 2020, for the hearing of the joinder application.

Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa informed the Court that the matter was coming up for raising of preliminary issues by the State.

He said in respect of the application to raise preliminary issues, the State had eight issues, adding that the first had been dealt with, which was that the respondent should be given an opportunity to be heard in priority to the hearing of committal proceedings as none of the parties would be prejudiced.

Mwansa said the second leg of argument was that the applicant filed committal proceedings for committal of the alleged contemnors to be committed to prison, but they skipped one fundamental stage of giving them an opportunity to appear before court to show cause why they should not be cited for contempt of court.

“The applicants allegedly condemned the alleged contemnors and convicted them of the alleged contempt before they were heard. Rules of natural justice and, indeed, our Constitution, demands that anybody charged with a criminal office ought to be given a fair hearing, which in this particular case was not the issue,” Mwansa said.

“On that ground, we pray that the summons for an order for committal for contempt filed by applicants on September 24, 2019, is set aside for irregularity as there can be no committal before this honourable court finds the alleged contemnors guilty of the contempt of court.”

Mwansa further said the State was abandoning the application that leave to commence judicial proceedings should be discharged.

Justice Chitabo adjourned the matter to March 5, 2020, for continued hearing of preliminary issues and application for joinder.