Former Minister of Transport and Communications William Harrington says he will seek judicial review if Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima rejects his application that a tribunal be set up on the allocation of plots in Forest Reserve No. 27.
Last month, Harrington and concerned citizen Robert Chimambo petitioned Justice Mambilima, through a letter, that she appoints a tribunal to investigate the matter of land ownership by Lands Minister Jean Kapata in Forest Reserve No. 27.
Speaking during a media briefing in Lusaka, Thursday, Harrington told journalists that there was no cause for Justice Mambilima to reject their application for the appointment of a tribunal in the matter.
“I do not see any reason or any cause for the Chief Justice to deny us to be heard through a tribunal for which we have applied for and for which we have complied with the provisions of the law. In an unlikely event that she rejects, then, of course, we will seek judicial review in the same way and we have a very good precedent, it is a very clear case. Judicial review – you sue the Attorney General and not the Chief Justice that the law should be followed,” Harrington said.
“But hopefully, I don’t see us reaching that far, unless we didn’t use the right font in the letter. Maybe, she might say ‘you didn’t use the right font’, or ‘you didn’t put a full stop here’. I really don’t see any good cause why the Chief Justice should refuse, but we will cross the bridge when we get there.”
He said he was yet to receive feedback from the petition he wrote to justice Mambilima.
“I have not yet received feedback, it’s over 14 days now. With due respect to the Chief Justice, we will give her 14 working days, and if we don’t receive anything by next week, with all due respect, then we will have cause for concern,” Harrington added.
“We, as joint-petitioners, feel that we have complied with the provision of the Act; we feel we have fully complied with the procedures in our application to the Chief Justice as stipulated under the Parliamentary and Ministerial Conduct Act in that we have lodged our complaint in writing to the Chief Justice, mentioning even (what was) levelled against the Minister, Ms Jean Kapata.”
He, however, hoped that justice Mambilima would take her statutory function by appointing a tribunal as provided for by Zambian law.
“Right now, we pray that the Chief Justice will take her statutory function as provided for under the Parliamentary and Ministerial Conduct Act Chapter 16 of the Laws of Zambia, which provided that upon receipt of any complaint from any citizen, her role is merely to receive and to inform the President of the Republic of Zambia and also to inform the Speaker (of the National Assembly); that is where her role begins and ends. The office of the Chief Justice must comply, the law says she shall, not may, it states that she shall, which makes it mandatory, she has no option; it is very clear!” said Harrington.
“You may wish to recall that in the Sylvia Masebo tribunal, the-then Chief Justice denied my application to appoint a tribunal. What happened? I sued the Attorney General and in a landmark ruling, [High Court] judge Dominic Sichinga ruled in my favour that the Chief Justice was wrong to deny me my application and he ordered that I have the right to be heard; it is my constitutional and legal right to be heard and that is what forced the Chief Justice to appoint the tribunal.”