The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) says the appetite by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to takeover or discontinue Court cases against state officers is worrying in the dispensation of justice.
In a statement, CiSCA Chairperson Bishop John Mambo said it was immoral for the DPP to only show interest in taking over prosecution cases of state officers like religious Affairs Minister Reverend Godfridah Sumaili when there were many other people facing the law.
“CiSCA strongly condemns the growing propensity by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to take over private prosecution of state officers facing the law. We find such acts to be highly immoral and a total abuse of authority. The DPP’s actions to discontinue the contempt case against President Edgar Lungu’s Press Aide, Amos Chanda and now her decision to take over the contempt case against National Guidance and Religious Affairs Minister Rev. Godfridah Sumaili, is of concern to CiSCA,” Bishop Mambo stated.
“Why has she not sprung into action in other cases which involve private citizens, for example, Chilufya Tayali? In as much as Article 180 (b) allows the DPP to take over and continue criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by another person or authority and also discontinue the prosecution at any stage before judgment is delivered, criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by her or another person or authority, the rate at which the DPP has developed this insatiable appetite to either takeover or discontinue cases against those in the corridors of power sets a very worrying trend in the dispensation of justice.”
Bishop Mambo stated that the DPP’s recent actions where she had discontinued certain cases of public officers was an indication of impunity which raised questions of ethics and morality in the judicial system.
“The DPP should not use her powers to protect state officers from facing the due process of the law when sued by private citizens, except when it is clear that the actions are in the interests of the public rather than those in power or office. Her actions are a clear indication of impunity and raises questions of ethics and morality in our judicial system. CiSCA’s considered opinion is that the DPP must exercise her powers with caution and restraint to avoid abusing the authority entrusted in her as it is clear from our end that she is not acting in public interest, or in regard to administration of justice or in regard to the integrity of the judicial system and in regard to need to prevent and avoid abuse of the legal process as provided for under Article 180 (7)” he stated.
And Bishop Mambo bemoaned expressed worry that some government officials were not serving the interests of citizens.
“CiSCA has noted that this seems to be a growing practice where public officers do not represent the interests of the citizens they are appointed to serve as was observed with the Attorney General who acted in total disregard of public interests by representing government in civil proceedings to which government is a party in accordance with Article 177(c), in this case recovering the monies from these ministers as ordered by the Constitutional Court,” Bishop Mambo stated.
“The Attorney General decided to protect individuals by offering his legal representation to these former ministers in the ongoing judicial review on the order by the Court for the ministers to pay back the money. These actions from state officers are extremely worrying and a blatant abuse of their offices. The manner in which the Attorney General, the DPP and other public office bearers conduct themselves has not helped to instill confidence in the Zambian judicial system among citizens.”
And Bishop Mambo condemned the continued tendency to curtail critical voices by those holding power.
“The recent developments as mentioned above undermine constitutionalism and the rule of law in the country and are a recipe for anarchy. As responsible citizens, we demand that constitutional office bearers must be guided by the constitution at all times and not by their political interests. CiSCA is appalled at the continued disregard of the rule of law and the failure by the current administration to uphold and respect the constitution. We are greatly concerned at the growing tendency by those holding state power to curtail even activities which are sanctioned by the law. One such example is the recent suspension of students’ union activities at UNZA and the Mulungushi University respectively, in clear disregard of the fact that such activities are sanctioned by an Act of Parliament,” stated Bishop Mambo.