Former Defence Permanent Secretary, Stardy Mwale, has asked the Lusaka magistrate court to refer his matter to the High court for constitutional reference following President Hakainde Hichilema’s remarks towards his case.
Mwale through his lawyers said President Hichilema commented on his matter relating to the procurement of Gulfstream G650 Presidential jet during his address at the judiciary conference held in Livingstone on November 29, 2022.
His lawyers, comprised of Milner Katolo, Jonas Zimba, Leon Lemba, among others, argued that their client was concerned by the biased comment of the President wherein he alleged that a Gulfstream jet was procured at an over priced price, saying that the comments would not cause a fair trial.
In this matter, Mwale and five others pleaded not guilty to four counts of willful failure to comply with the law, applicable procedure or guidelines, relating to the procurement of Gulfstream G650 Presidential jet.
Mwale, is facing all the four counts while his co-accused, Isabel Wilima Chinji, Micheal Obister Mbewe, Evaristo Sakala, Frank Hardy Sinyangwe and John Phiri are only facing one count of Willful Failure to Comply with the Law, Applicable Procedure or Guideline Relating to Procurement contrary to Section 34 (2) (b) as read with Section 41 of the Anti-Corruption Act No. 3 of 2012 of the Laws of Zambia.
Katolo in his submissions told magistrate Davies Chibwili that the Defense Minister, Ambrose Lufuma, also in an address to the parliament of Zambia alleged that the aircraft (presidential jet) was procured at the cost of U$60 million above market value following dubious procurement processes.
Katolo said the pronouncements coming from high level officials, especially the President raised serious concerns about the guarantee of fair trial in the matter.
“The question raised as to the guarantee of a fair trial is a constitution question, this court will note that pronouncements made by the President are not mere utterances but are directives to those that they are meant to say that the Gulfstream which is a subject of this proceeding was acquired by dubious means and this statement may to judicial officers is not a mere statement but a directive,” Zimba argued.
Zimba submitted that his client alleged that the utterances made by the President was meant to direct judicial officers on the matter and determined by them was in breach of article 122 of the constitution.
He further argued that the comment of the President on the ongoing matter raises questions on the outcome of the matter because it was more like a directive to the judicial officers.
“This court has no jurisdiction to determine that question, jurisdiction is everything and out of no jurisdiction comes nothing. The only available root for this court is to refer this issue of article 122 to the constitutional court for interpretation. The question is neither frivolous nor vexatious justice must not only be said to be done but must be seen to be done,” Zimba submitted.
The court had since adjourned the matter to January 29, for ruling.
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