BY TITUS CHILESHE
What on earth has gotten into our learned colleague’s head? The man seem to have this insatiable appetite for power all of a sudden. What has happened to our humble simple president? Zambians should not think this is a joke because a plan has already been improvised on how the constitution is going to be abrogated through the constitutional court.
People have been asking one question : WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE JUDICIARY? My answer to your question is that our judiciary has always been a rubber stamp when it comes to political cases. Why? This is because judges are basically appointed by the President and imposed on the judicial service commission.
As a senior member of the legal fraternity, I find the situation disheartening because things have become so pathetic in our judiciary. The calibre of judges we have nowadays are of questionable character. 90% are from outside the judiciary as opposed to the Kaunda /Chiluba era when the judiciary produced judges who started as Magistrates and rose through ranks e.g. Justices Ngulube, Chitengi, Banda, Simachela, N’dhlovu, Nyondo. This is how it is supposed to be.
Politicians have always interfered in judicial matters to suit their desired position. Judge Nyangulu was made to rescind a delivered judgement by late President Mwanawasa, a lawyer.
Late Anderson Mazoka petitioned the 2001elections and as we were in the High court, preparations for the inauguration were underway. Sending a signal that the judgement was known. Judge Chitengi dismissed the petition without hearing both parties. Weeks later he was promoted to the Supreme court. Judge Musonda who was one of the junior High Court Judges was also elevated to the Supreme Court after hearing a few political cases. This is how our judiciary operates.
I only remember one political matter way back in 1991were a brave Judgement was delivered. Frederick Chiluba and eight others were arrested in Choma for unlawful assembly, three months before the elections. Chiluba and the MMD thought it was over because their candidate was going to be slapped with a criminal charge rendering him ineligible to contest.
Amid intimidation, Judge Simachela, then Principal Resident Magistrate for Southern Province acquitted Chiluba and others to the disbelief of many Zambians. Kaunda was not happy with him.
Today’s young judges should emulate such men.
I have strived to make this article plain and simple so that a layman gets the picture. I am advocating for serious judicial reforms, an autonomous judiciary. With a weak judiciary, democracy is not guaranteed. The sitting President will always get what they want. Let us dissolve our constitutional court and start afresh by appointing constitutional lawyers to this very respectable bench.
The Author is a Lawyer Based in UK