The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has backed calls by citizens who have written to the Judicial Complaints Commission for the investigation and removal of Judges of the Constitutional Court on incompetence allegations levelled against them.
YALI President Andrew Ntewewe said his organization has read the argument forwarded by the some citizens who called for a thorough investigation by relevant authorities and that they share their stance to have the Constitutional Judges investigated for incompetence.
Mr Ntewewe said the indecisions showed by the Judges was a recipe for anarchy in the country.
“We have fully read the grounds by some citizens who have called for the thorough investigation, by the Judicial Complaints Commission, of Judges of the Constitutional Court and we share their stance that Judges of the Constitutional Court showed incompetence and failed to take charge of the proceedings when they kept giving conflicting rulings and directions to parties during the Petition, and redress to this can come from investigation of their incompetence by the Commission in line with Article 143 and 144 of the Constitution of Zambia.
“When the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday and Friday last week that the matter will be time-barred by midnight of Friday, 2nd September 2016, competent judges ought not to have U-turned on their own ruling by extending the hearing of the petition with 6 more days outside the 14-days time frame set by the Constitution. This was not only a recipe for igniting confusion in the nation but goes to the very foundation on deciding whether the Judges are competent or incompetent,” he said.
He further added that “it is YALI’s considered view that if the Judges were competent enough, they would have guided and demanded that parties file their arguments to the petition within the timeframe as provided by the rules of the Court i.e. within 5 days for the Respondents from time the petition was filed on 19th August 2016 and 2 days for the Petitioners to reply. Sadly, the Court allowed parties to the petition to file responses almost at the close of the 14 day period in which the petition was to be heard. Had the Court showed competence and provided this guidance, the main petition would have been heard from August 27 to September 2, 2016.
“we believe there was nothing to stop counsel for the petitioners to invoke the provisions of Article 18(9) in applying to the court to dispense with the technicalities associated with the preliminary issues which occupied the court’s time until the expiry of the hearing period. It is our contention that Counsel for the petitioners cannot foist all the blame on the court; it is well-known that the petitioners, by application through counsel, had every right to invoke this provision of the Constitution in order to ensure that the court could get to the substantive matter as quickly as possible.”
“As the nation is much aware, one of the grounds upon which Judges can be removed is incompetence and for this reason, we support calls by citizens to investigate the competence of the Judges in line with Article 143 and 144 of the Constitution of Zambia. We hope the Judicial Complaints Commission will speedily table this matter which is at the core of protecting the integrity and competence of the Judges in conflict management,” he said.
Some citizens have written to the Judicial Complaint Commission to have the Constitutional Judges who handled the presidential petition investigated and removed due to incompetence.