SUSPEND JUDGE SUNDAY NKONDE

..… and Lungu should account for illegal Post closure – Kalala

By Ernest Chanda

JACK Kalala has asked President Hakainde Hichilema to suspend High Court judge Sunday Nkonde and appoint a tribunal to investigate him.

And Kalala says former president Edgar Lungu should account for the illegal closure of Post Newspapers Limited.

In 2018, the Judicial Complaints Commission (JCC) found judge Nkonde guilty of professional misconduct over the way he handled the liquidation of Post Newspapers Limited, publishers of The Post.
This followed a complaint by the newspaper’s managing director and editor-in-chief Fred M’membe.

But judge Nkonde obtained a stay from his counterpart Isaac Chali of the Kitwe High Court who has since died.

However, the stay was expunged by the Lusaka High Court in May 2021, meaning that then president Lungu should have suspended judge Nkonde within seven days.
Lungu should have also appointed a tribunal to investigate judge Nkonde, but he never did.

A press query sent to State House by The Mast over the same was ignored despite several reminders, including phone calls.

And now the Supreme Court has held that the liquidation of Post Newspapers Limited in the manner it was done was not genuine.
Chief justice Mumba Malila and two other judges in a judgment dated February 17, 2022 held that High Court judge Sunday Nkonde relinquished his supervisory responsibility when he allowed Lewis Mosho as provisional liquidator and five former employees of Post Newspapers Limited, including the Zambia Revenue Authority to enter into a consent order declaring the company insolvent.

The bench ordered that the liquidation petition must be reopened before a different judge and joined Mosho to it for purposes of accounting for what he did with the properties of The Post.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we hold that the actions of the liquidator prior to and post the purported liquidation of The Post Newspapers Limited, are of no legal effect whatsoever,” ruled the Supreme Court.

And Kalala, a former special assistant to president Levy Mwanawasa for policy and project implementation and monitoring, said judge Nkonde should be probed since there is no law protecting him.

“As a reward for his dirty work, president Lungu appointed Sunday Nkonde as judge of the High Court. The stay of execution on which he survived remained in force until last year when it was ended. The man is now vulnerable,” he said.
“Since the stay was removed last year, the ball is in the court of President HH7 to appoint a tribunal to deal with the matter to its logical conclusion. If the tribunal finds justice Sunday Nkonde innocent, he should be allowed to continue in his current position. If on the other hand he is found wanting, the law should take its course. No sacred cows!”

Kalala said it was not surprising, though, that judge Nkonde’s judgment was flawed.
He said it was a well schemed political process ordered by then president, Lungu.

“But it should not come as a surprise that the right process was not followed. There wasn’t even a valid reason for closing the paper. The debt issue could have been resolved in one way or the other without resorting to a draconian measure of closing the company,” Kalala said.

“The forces behind the closure deliberately compromised the court process to achieve their intended wicked objective. What should be noted is that the closure of The Post newspaper was political. President Lungu engineered it.”

He recalled events leading to the newspaper’s closure.

“It should be recalled that while campaigning in Mufumbwe where there was a by-election following the defection of the then sitting member of parliament to PF, president Lungu issued threats against The Post and Fred M’membe, claiming that he (president Lungu) carried a long stick. This happened in February 2016,” he said.

“Indeed in [June] 2016 he actualised his threat. He used his surrogates at ZRA to achieve his nefarious intention. They used failure to pay tax as the reason for the closure of The Post. This was just a smokescreen. Times of Zambia, [Zambia] Daily Mail and another pro-PF private media owed ZRA huge sums of money in taxes but were not bothered, let alone closed.”

Kalala explained what he believed was the actual reason PF closed the newspaper.
He described the PF government move as an act of desperation.

“The reason for closing The Post was to eliminate a critical newspaper before the general elections of 2016. He also wanted to stop HH – who had proved to be a formidable threat – from participating in the elections by creating fake cases against him. That is how desperate president Lungu was for power,” Kalala said.

“To achieve his mischievous objective, president Lungu orchestrated treacherous Machiavellian manoeuvres and abusing government institutions to promote his personal agenda. It was a well-orchestrated scheme; some workers at the company were used to trigger the process.”

He added that it was “in fact Lungu who hired judge Nkonde to do the dirty work”.
“President Lungu lined up user-friendly lawyers to carry out his premeditated cruel action against the Post Newspaper. In carrying out his master’s assignment, Mr Sunday Nkonde disregarded all legal procedures as stated in the recent Supreme Court judgement,” Kalala charged.

“It was a well-planned and coordinated mafia operation whose objective was to destroy a critical newspaper that had proved a risk to the president’s ambition to continue his stay in power. Another user-friendly lawyer (Lewis Mosho) was appointed to act as provisional liquidator for the company with a mandate to move at the speed of light and ignore all legal requirements.”

And Kalala observed that Lungu abused his powers while in office, a matter for which he should be punished.
He said the blood of all former Post employees who have since died is on Lungu’s head.

“President Lungu is fully responsible for what happened. He should also be held accountable. He abused his powers to serve his personal interests. The immunity was given to him as president to allow him to serve the nation without unnecessary constraints,” said Kalala.

“Immunity is not a licence for the President to engage himself in misbehaving or misconducting himself. It was not intended to allow him to frustrate citizens’ interests for his personal benefits but to serve all the citizens equally, fairly and without discrimination. Immunity places a lot of responsibility on the President.

The blood of the former employees who died out of depression for losing their jobs and the ensuing suffering of those who survived are on the hands of president Lungu and the surrogates he used to close the newspaper.”

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