Arrogance of the Worst Kind

When Mutembo Nchito did a ‘donchi kubeba’ on the Lucky Mulusa-led Parliamentary Select Committee set up to ratify his appointment as the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, he must have known exactly what he was up to. His ratification on December 20, 2011 as Zambia’s chief criminal prosecutor was but a good Christmas and New Year present for him.

He became the first lawyer from private practice to take up the job, certainly a plus for him as he made history. Ordinarily, and going by past experience, those appointed by the president to hold this office came from mainstream government structures, like the Attorney General’s chambers, or indeed the DPP’s chambers. But, there have also been one or two occasions when people where appointed from the subordinate court bench. Meebelo Kalima and Joshua Simuziya were magistrates at the time they were both appointed DPP. Simuziya served in the early eighties under Kenneth Kaunda while Kalima served in the late nineties under Frederick Chiluba.

During the sitting of the Select Committee one of the things Nchito said was, ‘The job of a prosecutor was a very challenging one and going into it with an agenda to settle scores would make it more complicated.’ The final report of the Select Committee is a public document and it shows how Nchito explained that if given the job, his guiding principle on every prosecution would be to follow the rule of law regardless of who was involved. He actually told the Committee that he would recuse himself if a situation arose where he had to prosecute people like fourth president Rupiah Banda.

This, Nchito has not done and as things stand today he is personally prosecuting the former Head of State in the Nigeria oil and motor vehicle cases before magistrates Joshua Banda and Obister Musukwa respectively. He even seems so determined to personally prosecute the criminal matter brought before the court by Banda against Fred M’membe and the Post Newspaper for Contempt of Court.

If a copy of the letter from the National Prosecution Authority dated 22nd May, 2014 signed by Ms Mable Bauleni Nawa, the Deputy Chief State Aocate for the Director of Public Prosecutions is anything to go by, it is crystal clear that while the DPP’s Office does not feel gly about constructive criticism it wants a full retraction of a letter written by Banda’s lawyers, Makebi Zulu Aocates on 8th May, 2014. The letter is simply requesting Nchito to consider withdrawing from the matter so that Banda executes his original course of privately prosecuting the matter.

But it looks like the response from the DPP is nothing but a scathing attack on Makebi Zulu Aocates. Infact, the letter ends, ‘In view of your unprofessional conduct, your request to the DPP to withdraw from this matter to allow the Complainant herein to private prosecute this matter is rejected.’ Reading through the letter from the DPP’s office it is not so hard to see that the contents therein have someone else’s DNA. All the finger prints are pointing in one direction, the direction which is not so hard to locate somewhere in Lusaka. Most certainly the language may not be that of the Ms Nawa.

From a layman’s point of view it is quite hard to understand how Banda’s lawyers are being labeled unprofessional for bringing out eight solid concerns on which the former president feels Nchito should stay away from the case involving his known business partner, M’membe. Concern number seven states, ‘You never saw it fit on your own accord to commence proceedings against the contemnors but have since taken peculiar interest in this matter after the complainant, in seeking to protect his right to a fair trial, instituted contempt proceedings.’ This as can be seen is a very serious concern.

All in all, this is one case that we should all follow with keen interest and see how Zambia’s chief criminal prosecutor, the DPP Mutembo Nchito proceeds in a matter where he is a potential witness, a matter in which despite being aware of Banda’s discomfort with his involvement in the other cases already in court he has not declared interest but has found it fit to take over the former presidents case against his known buddy, Fred M’membe. Now, is this a case of arrogance of the worst kind?

Source : Zambia Reports

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