The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has demanded that Chief Justice Irene Mambilima must recuse herself and allow her deputy Michael Musonda to set up a tribunal to probe the allocation of plots in Lusaka’s Forest 27.
William Harrington, who served as minister in the MMD government, on August 19, 2019 wrote a letter to justice Mambilima requesting the appointment of a tribunal to investigate whether or not there was corruption in the awarding of plots in the de-gazetted forest reserve.
In a statement, Thursday, Mwanza said justice Mambiliima was not the right person to appoint a tribunal because she was an interested party in the matter.
“As NDC, we welcome the decision by whistle blowers who have officially written to the Judiciary to set up a tribunal to probe Lands Minister Jean Kapata. This is in connection with the illegal allocation of land in Forest Reserve number 27 in Lusaka. William Harrington and another senior citizen are the eminent persons who have requested for the setting up of this tribunal,” Mwanza stated.
“According to procedure, justice Mambilima is the one charged with [the responsibility] to set up such a tribunal. We, however, feel Justice Ireen Mambilima is not the right person to set up this tribunal. Justice Mambilima should recuse herself in this matter. We say so because the Honorable Chief Justice is herself a beneficiary of land in not only Lusaka Forest number 27 but also in Shibuyunji Forest 42.”
He stated that justice Mambilima should in this case delegate the task to Deputy Chief Justice Musonda.
“Justice Mambilima has vast interest in this matter, and we feel she cannot handle this matter with impartiality. As NDC, we are taken aback that a person at the helm of the judiciary is cited in the dubious allocation of land. What is worsening is that the Chief Justice has failed to defend herself on how she miraculously benefited from land in two forest reserves,” Mwanza stated.
He stated that justice Mambilima had set a very bad precedent in the judiciary.
“Mrs Mambilima has clearly sent a signal to the ranks and files of the Judiciary that corruption is a norm in the judicature. We won’t be surprised to hear cases of rampant corruption in the Judiciary because the respect that the system gave her Honour has been eroded. Currently, most citizens have challenges in acquiring land in Lusaka. We are left with many questions as to how and why madam Mambilima has miraculously been allocated two plots in two controversial areas at alarming speed,” stated Mwanza. “As NDC, we want to remind the chief justice that she heads a very sensitive and important office in the land. But justice Mambilima will have herself to blame for assertions members of the public will throw on her office, which office she has chosen to throw into odium. With the forgoing, we wonder if most Zambians still hold this woman in high esteem. She, however, has an opportunity to clear her name in the wake of all these illegalities,” stated Mwanza.