By CHIKUMBI KATEBE
THE cartel-captured Law Association of Zambia’s bid to join the Post Newspaper in Liquidation case has hit a snag after the Lusaka High Court threw out their application citing that they were not an interested party in the matter and that the facts and circumstances presented did not show a posture of impartiality on the part of LAZ.
This was after High Court Judge Sunday Nkonde threw out the application for the association to join the winding up petition for the Post Newspapers Limited in Liquidation as amicus curiae, or a friend of the court, because they had not justified their intention to be made a party to the matter.
Mr Justice Nkonde admonished LAZ not only to show zeal to apply to join as amicus curiae in commercial cases but to also do so in human rights litigation involving or affecting vulnerable and marginalized persons in our society.
He accused LAZ of having taken a stand in the matter when they made their application to join the proceedings at the time there was an application for the judge to recuse himself from the case.
Mr. Justice Nkonde said there was no viable justification by the Association to be joined in a matter they had no direct or indirect interest in as submitted by the petitioners when they charged that LAZ was neither a shareholder, employee nor partner in the Post Newspaper.
“LAZ glossed over this and the fact that the said objection affidavit in support was filed by Messrs Nchito and Nchito who are the advocates of the interested party.
“In my view, any informed ordinary litigant would come to the inevitable conclusion that LAZ has taken a stand in relation to the proceedings or matters herein which is in consonant with that of the interested party (Fred M’membe), contrary to LAZ’s attempt to portraying itself as applying to join so that it gives a neutral brief in relation to the recusal application.
“Before the court as the record shows, is a law firm of Messrs Nchito and Nchito representing the interested party. It is well known that Messrs Nchito and Nchito has two learned State Counsels with many years of experience at the bar between them , in comparison – with due respect – to the lawyers for the petitioners and LAZ but who are equally competent,” Mr Justice Nkonde said.
He said the court was in no doubt of the ability of the two State Counsels to ably represent their client, Mr M’membe, with the necessary expertise in the matter before him.
He said allowing LAZ to join the proceedings as friend of the court would delay the disposal of the case which would prejudice the parties whether before him or any other judge.
And Mr Justice Nkonde admonished LAZ, saying they ought to have known that the matter of Mr M’membe was yet to be decided upon by the courts, which matter they relied upon in their affidavit in support of their application.
He said the petitioners had earlier objected to the inclusion of LAZ as a friend of the court on the Post in Liquidation matter, when they challenged the authenticity of the application by Mr M’membe to join the proceedings when he was said to be out of the country, on which the association relied upon.
This was in relation to the application by Mr M’membe to be joined as an interested party to the proceedings and thereafter, also applied for Justice Nkonde to recuse himself from the case on grounds, among others, that he had personal interest against the newspaper company.
And Justice Nkonde has called on LAZ to play its advisory role to members of the public on the operatiions of the courts as well as to join as a friend of the court especially in human rights litigations involving or affecting the vulnerable and marginalized persons in society.
LAZ president Linda Kasonde, in her sworn affidavit, argued that the Post in Liquidation case had generated significant media attention and interest, raising the concern of the association.