THE Judiciary has restored Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa’s right to appear in court.
And the Judiciary says it will not proceed with contemptuous charges it had intended to take against Sangwa.
In a letter to the Law Association of Zambia, Chief Registrar and Director of Court Operations Charles Kafunda stated that the decision to reverse the ban was arrived at after Sangwa issued a statement which was recently published by News Diggers.
“On the 13th March, 2020, the Judiciary suspended the right of audience of Mr. John Sangwa, SC before the Zambian Courts. This was following some statements which were published in the News Diggers Newspaper and attributed to Mr Sangwa SC. The statements in issue were considered contemptuous and hence the suspension of Mr Sangwa’s right of audience before the courts and the lodgement of a complaint against him to the Law Association of Zambia by the Judiciary. The Constitutional Court also began the process of arraigning Mr Sangwa, SC for contempt of court,” Kafunda said.
“At the initiative of some state counsel, Mr Sangwa, SC engaged the Constitutional Court over the statements attributed to him. The said process of engagement culminated in a statement issued by Mr Sangwa, SC and published in the News Diggers Edition of 22nd May, 2020.”
Kafunda, however, stated that the complaint against Sangwa would remain before the Law Association of Zambia to be determined in accordance with the rules of the Law Association of Zambia Legal Practitioners committee.
“In view of the statement issued by Mr Sangwa, SC the Constitutional Court will not proceed with the intended contempt charges against Mr Sangwa SC, consequently, the Judiciary has decided to restore Mr Sangwa’a right of audience before all courts in Zambia. With regards to the complaint by the Judiciary against Mr Sangwa SC, it stands and the position of the Judiciary is that the complaint will remain before the Law Association of Zambia to be determined in accordance with the rules of the Law Association of Zambia Legal Practitioners’ committee,” stated Kafunda.
In his statement, Sangwa said he had accepted the appointment of the Constitutional Court judges and recognised, as well as respected their authority.
Sangwa said this was despite his personal opinion that they did not qualify.
“When the names of the six nominees to the Constitutional Court were announced, in line with my oath of office as a lawyer and right and duty as a citizen to protect and defend the Constitution, I evaluated the qualifications of each nominee based on the documents submitted in support of their respective nominations against the relevant provisions of the Constitution. It was my opinion that none of the nominees qualified for appointment to the office of Judge of the Constitutional Court. I detailed the basis of my conclusion in a brief attached to my letter to the President dated 13th March 2016, which was copied to the Chief Justice, the nominees, the Chairman of the Judicial Service Commission, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Law Association of Zambia,” stated Sangwa.
“What is contained in the brief is and remains my opinion, given as part of the vetting process of the Judges of the Constitutional Court. My opinion was not accepted. The President did not rescind the nominations, the nominees did not withdraw their names for consideration for appointment to the Constitutional Court, the National Assembly confirmed the nominations and the nominees subsequently took the oath of office. The process was completed and the Judges have been exercising the powers vested in the Constitutional Court by hearing and deciding cases. I have accepted the outcome of the constitutional process. Defending and protecting the Constitution is not just about ensuring that it is not violated. It is also about respecting the processes established by the Constitution and accepting the outcome. I have accepted the appointment of the Judges of the Constitutional Court and recognise and respect their authority. Consequently, since the Constitutional Court was constituted, I have, most likely, filed and argued more cases before that Court than any other lawyer in Zambia.”
On March 13, 2020, the Judiciary barred 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, Acting Registrar Prince Mwiinga announced that Sangwa would no longer be allowed to appear before any court.
This was after Sangwa made several public statements insisting that the ConCourt judges were unqualified to hold those positions.