Judge Siavwapa roasted over M’membe advice from the bench

Sun, 29 Jan 2017 10:10:15 +0000



LUSAKA High Court Judge-in-charge Mwiinde Siavwapa is no longer an impartial man of the justice by giving legal advice to Post Newspaper (in liquidation) proprietor Fred M’membe from the bench, says former UPND deputy spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo.

Mr Lifwekelo has since taken the matter to the Judicial Complaints Commission for arbitration.

But in  an interview in Lusaka yesterday, the lawyer, who sought anonymity, said it was wrong for Judge Siavwapa to engage in a lawyer-client relationship when his status as judge dictated that he acts as a referee in any legal dispute.

He was commenting on the complaint of gross misconduct filed against Justice Siavwapa by former United Party for National Development (UPND) Deputy Spokesperson Edwin Lifwekelo before the Judicial Complaints Commission for giving Mr M’membe legal advice from the bench.

“That complaint is properly before the Judicial Complaints Commission because in the first place, it was wrong for Mr M’membe to write to the Judge who was handling his other case. He should have been cited for contempt of court because this amounted to interference with the matter that was already in court of the same jurisdiction before another judge. He has lost his status as umpire or referee.

“He is the one who should look at things objectively with the decorum and impartiality that a Judge must have. He received a letter that was issued irregularly by Mr M’membe and then he writes back providing legal guidance on how to execute what Mr M’membe wanted. If he can render advice, it means he was engaging in a lawyer-client relationship,” the lawyer said.

He said Judge Siavwapa’s action had raised questions about his impartiality in the matter he handled between the Post Newspaper and Zambia Revenue (ZRA) and delivered judgment in Mr M’membe’s favour before the Supreme Court overturned the judgment.

“This raises a lot of questions about him, and the Judicial Complaints Commission must investigate the extent of his impartiality so that he is cleared. Judges must know where their role as umpires begin and end. It is not a question of being so partial about the matter because of possible relationships with certain people so that they can just throw the caution of impartiality to the wind.

“As judges, they must not forget to remain impartial and where there is a conflict of interest, they must recuse themselves. They must not take these things lightly because they have a responsibility to observe a high degree of impartiality and integrity which must not be seen to be compromised,” he said.


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