Judge Chikopa stays put in Zambia despite injunction

The Malawian High Court Judge and chief adjudicator at the Commercial court, Justice Lovemore Chikopa, who Zambian President Michael Sata imported into his country to head a three-man tribunal to investigate three judges, will remain in Zambia despite a stay granted by the courts against the proceedings,.

Zambian Justice Minister, Sebastian Zulu , said the Malawian judge will continue staying in that country saying that a decision would only be made when the Supreme Court sets a date for the appeal hearing.

“For now Justice Chikopa will remain in Zambia until such time when the Supreme Court of appeal sets a trial date for the hearing of the appeal of the case,” said Zulu.

Justice Chikopa (L) in Zambia

The Zambian government have appealed to the Supreme Court after two of the three suspended judges, Nigel Mutuna and Charles Kajimanga obtained an injunction to stay proceedings of the tribunal headed by Judge Chikopa to prevent it from sitting to hear their alleged impropriety pending the full determination of the judicial review by the High Court.

The two Judges are asking the High Court to quash President Sata’s decision to constitute a tribunal to conduct investigations of alleged impropriety or incompetence claiming it is illegal and impulsive.

High Court Judge, Fulgence Chisanga, recently week granted the duo leave to apply for judicial review which would operate as a stay of President Sata’s decision.

Nyasa Times has also gathered that the other judge, a supreme court judge has joined the injunction case to stop Chikopa and his two Zambian counterparts from probing the three judicial officers’ alleged professional misconduct.

But the Justice Minister said that since the tribunal was appointed by President Sata, it was only him that could advise otherwise.

“If the Supreme Court takes a longer time to hear the matter, I agree that the judge should first go back to Malawi until the matter is disposed of in court,” the Zambia justice Minister said , according to Times of Zambia.

Several sections of society have called for Chikopa’s return home pending the disposal of the case in which the two judges are disputing the decision by President Sata to set up a tribunal.

Justice Chikopa is staying at the five star Pamodzi hotel with tight security in the Zambian capital, Lusaka but opposition parties have ganged up demanding that the Malawian judge be sent back home saying his extended leave to remain in Zambia is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

When contacted from his hotel Justice Chikopa confirmed that he is still in Zambia waiting from the Zambian government authorities on what he should do next.

“I am still in Zambia at the moment,” he said but refused to discuss the matter further.

Justice Chikopa is known in his homeland, Malawi as an impartial judge and is synonymous with landmark judgements.

Upon his appointment to head the Zambian tribunal, Justice Chikopa told Nyasa Times that he would execute his duties in accordance with the rule of law and natural justice but emphasized that he would not be swayed by fear or favour.

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