Outgoing Zambian President Edgar Lungu has fired suspended national Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito and replaced him with his deputy after a presidential tribunal set up to probe him for alleged misconduct found him unfit to continue in his job.
However, Lungu said the appointment of Lilian Siyuni as substantive DPP two days before the presidential, parliamentary and local council elections remained subject to ratification by the post-election parliament.
On March 10, Lungu set up a tribunal led by former Chief Justice Annel Silungwe to probe Nchito’s fitness to hold public office following allegations of misconduct and abuse of power against him.
The case emanated from reports that on February 20, 2015, and at the Lusaka Magistrates Court, the DPP personally prosecuted took charge of the prosecution of a matter in which he was an accused person.
According to the tribunal report released last week, Nchito further abused his powers to defeat the ends of justice when he issued a ‘nolle prosequi’ ruling in his own favour. In legal terms, a ‘nolle prosequi’ is a formal notice of abandonment of all or part of a suit by a plaintiff or prosecutor.
Key among its recommendations to Lungu, the tribunal said Nchito should be removed from his post as public prosecutions director because he had demonstrated an ‘intentional disrespect’ and disregard of the very judicial proceedings he was supposed to oversee.
Specifically, the tribunal said through his actions, the DPP had wilfully violated Article 58 (Sections 2 and 3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia.
Meanwhile, Lungu has criticised the European Union (EU) observer team deployed to monitor the elections saying they always lacked impartiality in their final observer reports.
The criticism was a veiled response to the stance of the EU and other Western embassies which have consistently criticised the State media of being biased towards the president and his Patriotic Front (PF) party.
Among the top organisations singled out for being openly pro-government and hostile to opposition parties in their election campaign coverage are the Zambian National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and the Daily Mail, a government-owned daily newspaper.
Addressing members of the EU election observer team who paid him a courtesy visit in Lusaka on Tuesday, Lungu said while he values the contribution of international election observers, he was concerned that the EU always gave one-sided ‘stories’ which he said were unbalanced and aimed at tarnishing the image of the country.
He said contrary to widespread media reports, his government had never restricted media freedoms or stopped any of the opposition parties from holding rallies.
Further, he defended the conduct of the Zambian police force saying they had the discretion to decide on whether or not to allow political parties to hold rallies.