POST founder Fred M’membe says Justice Sunday Nkonde must be removed from handling the company’s liquidation case because he previously attempted to get the newspaper closed before he was appointed judge.
In a letter to High Court judge-in-charge, which was copied to Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima and dated January 23, 2017, M’membe stated that Nkonde had sued Post Newspaper Limited whilst purporting to have authority from Finance Bank to do so when in fact not.
“We write in relation to the captioned matter. Mr Justice Nkonde who is presiding over the matter of the Post Newspaper Limited is not supposed to sit in that matter. As an advocate in private practice, Mr Nkonde brought an action against The Post Newspaper allegedly on behalf of Finance Bank just before the 2011 general election. The action relation to Zambian Airways. This action contained scandalous accusations against Post Newspaper Limited and bore hallmarks of being politically motivated,” M’membe wrote.
“What is worrying about Justice Nkonde’s conduct is that we now have it on good authority that when he commenced the action against The Post, he was acting without instructions from Finance Bank. That action was calculated to destroy Post Newspaper Limited and lead to its liquidation as part of a political scheme to silence critical media.”
He noted that to this day, Judge Nkonde had failed to disclose who instructed him to sue Post Newspaper Limited on behalf of Finance Bank.
“To this day, Judge Nkonde has failed to disclose who instructed him to sue Post Newspaper Limited on behalf of Finance Bank. We challenge him to disclose who retained him in that matter. What was his motive in bringing an action against Post Newspaper Limited for Finance Bank without being instructed by the bank?” M’membe asked.
He stated that it was inconceivable for Justice Nkonde to sit and determine a matter for a newspaper he had tried to destroy.
“Against this background, it is inconceivable that Mr Justice Sunday Nkonde can in good conscience sit to determine a matter involving a party he tried to destroy a mere five years ago. Even if he had instructions to act, how can a judge sit to determine a matter involving a party he has sued before in circumstances that suggest misconduct. Justice Nkonde should not hear this matter. Justice must not only be seen to be done,” wrote M’membe.
“Mr Justice Nkonde’s conduct of the current matter has not left us with concern either. Find enclosed herewith a copy of the writ and statement of claim that Justice Sunday Nkonde filed against Post Newspaper Limited and others in August 2011.”
On November 2, Justice Nkonde placed the newspaper under provisional liquidation and appointed Lusaka lawyer Lewis Mosho as the provisional liquidator.
This was after four former Post employees; Andrew Hebert Chiwenda, Roy Habalu, Bonaventure Bwalya Mwendalubi Mwene and Abel Mbozi applied to wind up the newspaper so that they could be paid their benefits.