|FLASHBACK: Professor Mvunga (4th from right) in President
Banda’s entourage in Swaziland when the President visited King
PF and UPND members of parliament on
Wednesday opposed the Presidential appointments of Lusaka High Court judge Essau
Elliot Chulu and Professor Patrick Mvunga to the Electoral
Commission of Zambia (ECZ) and the Judicial Complaints Authority, describing
the duo as friends of the President.
Debating the report of the
Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to scrutinise the Presidential
appointments of judge Chulu, who is President Rupiah Banda's close relative and
Prof Mvunga to serve as ECZ commissioner and member of Judicial Complaints
Authority respectively, Kantanshi PF member of parliament Yamfwa Mukanga opposed
the appointments of the two individuals.
“Those who aspire to be bishops
should be above suspicion. The same applies to these nominees. The Electoral
Commission of Zambia is a very important commission because it can unite or
destroy Zambia. It is for this reason that we need people of great calibre,”
Mukanga said. “Professor Mvunga was involved in the Dora (Siliya) Tribunal and
failed… what integrity are we talking about? I question as to whether it's
prudent to ratify that person. We saw the Professor on the presidential
entourage to Swaziland and America.
“What will stop a State Counsel from
being compromised? We have seen State Counsels being compromised. We have seen
some State Counsel taken to Cuba. The Judicial Complaints Authority can be
compromised if we have people of compromised calibre.”
Mukanga argued that
judge Chulu was about 67 years old and therefore too old to be appointed to
“If you want a lawyer, you can even get young ones. These jobs are
not jobs for friends. They are supposed to be for people of high integrity,” he
Mukanga also said there was need for tribal balancing at
“Four out of five commissioners are from Eastern Province. I think
that's where a problem is. Why should we only be talking about people from
Eastern Province? We need to have a balance,” Mukanga said. “We have a President
from Eastern Province, we have a Chief Justice who is supposed to be a returning
officer from Eastern Province, we have the chairperson of ECZ from Eastern
Mukanga stressed that when appointing people, there are issues
that should be taken into consideration. He said Lusaka lawyer John Sangwa
has a case against judge Chulu, who is the judge-in-charge but before the case
is disposed off, there is already a nomination.
“I urge people from this
side not to support this nomination,” he said.
And Kalomo UPND member of
parliament Request Muntanga also objected to the appointments.
they are going for is a job that will be superintending politicians. Therefore,
a person going there shall not hold any suspicion. If today Zambia was playing
Ghana and a Mr Dhlamba is appointed referee, Zambia will complain whether he is
qualified or not,” Muntanga said and observed that there was a complaint against
judge Chulu at the Judicial Complaints Authority.
“To barely say 'no we
shouldn't discuss certain issues' we are burying the head in the sand. We should
be sensitive enough when you are taking a person to go in the ECZ, they should
be above suspicion.
“A State Counsel who has been with the President
everywhere and he has been told 'you are going to stand for the State' and
things have gone wrong…Zambians know these things. For the judge who is on
contract, why give him another contract? Get other people. Julius Ceasar said 'I
am divorcing my wife, she must be above suspicion'…I’m saying they (judge Chulu
and Prof Mvunga) must be above suspicion.”
And Tourism minister Catherine
Namugala said issues being raised concerning appointees that they came from a
certain region were unfair.
She said she got worried as a mother when
people debated on tribal lines.
And Bangweulu member of parliament Joseph
Kasongo also spoke against debating on tribal lines.
But Roan PF member
of parliament Chishimba Kambwili criticised Kasongo, saying that it was
extremely disappointing that people failed to be consistent. He said it was the
same Kasongo who defended the acquittal of former president Frederick
“If Chiluba did not come from Luapula, he could not have
supported him,” Kambwili said.
He said there was need to be sensitive to
the issue of tribalism.
“Today, ECZ has no confidence of Zambians and it will
be wrong to be taking people from one province into this commission. The
nomination of judge Chulu is unacceptable by all standards,” Kambwili said.
“Even elections that are free and fair will be deemed not to be free and fair
because you have your people.”
Kambwili said the issue of tribalism in
the country was real.
He said there were records to show that President
Banda had openly practiced tribalism when he went to distribute sugar in
Vulamukoko in Eastern Province.
Kambwili's line of debate followed
heckles from the opposition side who complained that President Banda was
favouring people from Eastern Province with key government
“The President was telling the people of Vulamukoko when he
went to distribute sugar in the presence of Hon Namugala Catherine that 'I am
your own, so vote for me,” Kambwili said. “Mr. Speaker, the issues of tribalism
are real and they should be taken seriously.”
Kambwili opposed the
appointment of Prof Mvunga, arguing that it would not help the impartiality of
the Judicial Complaints Commission for a practicing lawyer to be a member of the
body charged with monitoring the conduct of judicial workers.
“How does a
practicing lawyer sit to hear the magistrates and judges that he appears before
in courts? How is he going to deliver a ruling that is impartial? It's a matter
of integrity and morality,” said Kambwili.
But lands minister Peter Daka
said the colour, tribe and character of the person did not matter when a person
was being considered for appointment to public officer.
Daka, who is also
MMD Msanzala member of parliament, said MPs were lowering the standards of
National Assembly by debating along tribal considerations.
“What is the
tribe of Guy Scott and Given Lubinda?” wondered Daka, amidst protest from
Lubinda. “…Even in the Northern Province, Hon Namugala is said not to be Bemba.
Now, let me ask Hon Kambwili how he is going to treat his vice president who has
got no tribe and who is the one the chief rejected…”
Daka said this in an
apparent reference to paramount chief Chitimukulu's assertions during the Kasama
by election that he could not vote for PF who had a white man for vice
Presidential affairs minister Ronald Mukuma said President
Banda had shown impartiality in the manner he had been making appointments of
Mukuma who said the President reserved the right to
choose people to work with and that President Banda had shown impartiality by
taking on board most people from his predecessor, the late president Levy
Mukuma said he was not surprised that the people out there
were beginning to lose confidence in the current crop of MPs because of certain
lines of debate, such as debating on tribal lines.
“We should not come
here to get allowances just to say tribal things,” said Mukuma. “Electoral
Commission is very sensitive; you just can't pick someone because he has a
After a heated debate, Speaker Amusaa Mwanamwambwa subjected the
motion to an electronic vote after his initial oral-based vote ruling in favour
of MMD was rejected by the opposition.
After the electronic vote, the
ruling MMD won with 76 votes while the PF/UPND members had 37 votes. There was
one absentee vote.
And according to the report of the Ben Mwila-led
Parliamentary Select Committee, the witnesses who appeared before the committee
were unanimous in describing Prof Mvunga as a person of integrity, impartial and
The findings also observed that most witnesses said judge Chulu
was a disciplinarian who is highly meticulous and strict with rules of an
“In view of the foregoing, your committee are of the view
that the nominees are eminently qualified and competent to serve in the
positions to which they are appointed,” Mwila submitted.
strongly recommend that the House to ratify the Presidential appointment of
judge Esau Elliot Chulu and Prof Patrick Mphanza Mvunga, SC, to serve the nation
in the noble offices of Commissioner of the Electoral Commission of Zambia and
Member of the Judicial Complaints Authority respectively.”
But in the
other submissions, which were made to the committee, the Law
Association of Zambia (LAZ) submitted that judge Chulu had
“In response to the committee's concern that the appointment of
judge Essau Elliot Chulu to serve on the Electoral commission would deprive the
bench of his services, LAZ responded in the negative, explaining that the
nominee had retired and was, therefore, serving the bench on contract. In this
case, the nominee was due to leave the bench soon,” read the report in
And the vice-chairperson of the Judicial Complaints Authority
informed the committee that a search of their records revealed a complaint
lodged against judge Chulu by Sangwa and two others for alleged
“The vice-chairperson submitted that in the course of the
commission's investigations of the complaint, the complainants filed a petition
in the High Court against the Judicial Complaints Authority and the Attorney
The Authority, therefore, resolved to hold the complaint in
abeyance pending the outcome of the petition in the court of law,” the report
stated. “As to whether the Authority had received any other complaints against
judge Chulu, the vice-chairperson responded that he was aware of another
complaint against the nominee in which the complainant sought to disagree with a
decision of the nominee as judge of the High Court. However, the Authority found
no prima facie case as the complainant had the right to appeal to the higher
court against the nominee's decision.”