FORMER justice minister Wynter Kabimba has written to Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima telling her that the Judiciary’s action against constitutional lawyer John Sangwa State Counsel has no legal backing and should therefore be reversed.

On Friday, the Judiciary Sangwa from appearing before any court in Zambia pending determination of its complaint against him to the Law Association of Zambia. 

In a notice to all judges of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Registrars and Magistrates today, Acting Registrar Prince Mwiinga announced that Sangwa would no longer be allowed to appear before any court. 

But in a letter dated March 14, Kabimba, who now leads the Rainbow Party, observed that the Judiciary’s action was not only unprecedented, but it also offended the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty.

“RE: RIGHT OF AUDIENCE BEFORE ZAMBIAN COURTS BY JOHN SANGWA, SC. I refer to the above mater and in particular the notice dated 13th March, 2020, same which was issued by the Acting Chief Registrar in respect of the same. The notice reads in part that: ‘This action has been taken following a complaint of professional misconduct made by the Judiciary to the law Association of Zambia against the said John Sangwa, SC.’ This letter is no justification whatsoever about Mr. Sangwa’s statements which in my view would constitute his freedom of expression under our constitution, the extent of which forms the basis for the Judiciary’s complaint to LAZ for determination. What comes to me with a sense of shock, dismay and consternation is that the Complainant (Judiciary) has also decided to be its own judge in the matter,” Kabimba stated.

“According to our due process of the law, if Mr. Sangwa feels aggrieved by the verdict of LAZ, his recourse would be to the same Judiciary which has already judged him and placed him on suspension. In the event that LAZ finds merit in the complaint and decides to suspend Mr. Sangwa, he would be subjected to two concurrent suspensions. This is unprecedented and offends the very principle that a person is innocent until his guilt is established by an impartial tribunal after according him/her a fair hearing.”

He observed that it was bizarre that the Registrar’s notice did not indicate any provisions of the law which supported such an action.

“What is also surprising is that the Registrar’s notice does not indicate any provisions of the law which support such an action. This, therefore, leads me to the question as to the legality of the notice in question and where one would go to seek a remedy if they so desire. It will be most unfair to our country for the Judiciary to continue to appear to be immune to criticism and fail to use established legal provisions where it feels that such criticism offends our laws. This seems to be the case here,” stated Kabimba.

“In view of the foregoing, I appeal to your office to revisit this decision in the interest of all concerned and our legal profession at large.”