Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba
Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba
The news from the Constitutional Court that it has halted the infamous “Eligibility Case” is an extremely saddening and sickening tragedy. While we respect and uphold the spirit of Article 122 which provides for judicial independence and insulates the judiciary from any external control, we however still believe that suggestions by outsiders could nonetheless be floated to the judiciary for consideration, for the sake winning back public confidence in our superior courts.

A judiciary that loses public confidence is a more dangerous to national security than is the case with executive and legislature.

As the Green Party, we think that it is not yet too late to reform and win back the public confidence. For this reason, it is imperative that any issues that tend to undermine the dignity of the judiciary are sorted out quickly by all of us, much as we respect and uphold Article 122.

Our considered view is that the tragedy of the judiciary, particularly as regard to superior courts is the case management system. Whilst the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal have made impressive strides in case management, there is a very serious problem in the High Court and Constitutional Court.

Much as the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal have made impressive strides in this regard, nonetheless, we still believe more could be done to improve the situation.

The traditional case management system where in essence it is the litigants that control the time, and thereby make cases run forever without finality seriously needs to be dispensed with because it is number one reason for the erosion of public confidence in judiciary.

We suggest that our judiciary takes a leaf and emulates the case management strategy adopted by the Supreme Court of Kenya in the last Presidential election.

Whilst fourteen days appears to be a nightmare here in Zambia, the Supreme Court of Kenya fully complied with the fourteen days prescribed by the Constitution within which to hear and determine a petition.

Like is the case in Zambia, the Kenyan Constitution has set seven days within which any party can challenge the presidential outcome. In Kenya, the Supreme Court registry remained open up until midnight of the seventh day for any party to file a case.

Once the cases were filed, the parties were given by the Court only two days to serve the respondents. The Court ordered that service of the court documents could be done directly or through a newspaper advertisement. The respondents were required to file their replies within four days of being served, and the applicants then had four days to put in additional material to the petition.

A pre-trial conference was held after eight days and the hearing started immediately after the conference. The Court prescribed the number of pages to be submitted and apportioned four days to hear and determine the dispute.

Exactly on the fourteen day, the Court handed down an abridged version of judgment and the full version was ready and distributed twenty one days later thereby fully complying with the prescribed timeframe.

No petitioner cried foul on the timing and court directions.

We suggest that the Constitutional Court and other superior courts should consider adopting the Supreme Court of Kenya case management strategy to avoid the chaos and agony currently existing.

The current system is so frustrating, disgusting and nauseating. It has considerably contributed to litigant’s anguish and frustration thereby leading to growing loss of confidence in the judiciary. It has also contributed to the bombardment of the superior courts, especially the High Court and Constitutional Court, with the Judicial Complaints Commission complaints. This development does not auger well for our justice system.

Peter Sinkamba
President

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16 COMMENTS

  1. The precedence that has been set by the supreme court where no matter how late a respondent takes to enter appearance as long as they state ‘some sought of defence’, the court allows them, is a serious cause of delayed justice in our court system. If rules can be changed to strictly compel all parties to abide by the time frame prescribed by the court with no tolerance for non appearance, cases could be disposed off quickly. Of course the Con.court has set its own precedent on the 14days, but this should be extended to other civil cases. The situation of cases running for years should seriously be looked at because it just enriches lawyers, by the time judgement is being past a $10000 claim,the lawyer would have taken $9500 or all of it plus other properties …

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  2. Sinkamba is on point, as always. CJ Mambilima needs to revisit practice directions and codes to conform to conform to the amended constitution of 2016. Judicial power is now vested in the people, according to the new constitution. It is no longer vested in the courts. So the people’s will through the amended constitution should be seen to be done, and be done in courts of law

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  3. The Chief Justice and Deputy must sit on the full bench of the ConCourt because their judgments can’t be appealed. The last petition was different because the petitioners spent time raising preliminary issues. Directions are made from affidavits and certificates of urgency filed in court, otherwise the court may be accused of trying to bulldoze the process. A Presidential election petition is a serious matter that petitioners need to know the consequences of gallivanting

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    • However, if there is a clear time table as seen from the Kenyan process where all parties know they have say 2 days to effect service for instance, then so much days to do this and that then finally so much time for trial and determination. At the moment, the court sits and dances to the tune of the litigants. Why not have a clear direction from the courts and if any party fails as directed, they lose out.

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  4. Much as this makes a lot of sense, has the green party engaged the rightful authorities to address this matter?? Why can’t greens engage MMD, FDD, UPND and form a single strategy to address this matter in parliament??? Then they can collectively and directly engage the Chief Justice and the Judiciary. Being a champion in the media isn’t paying off very well these days, try being proactive on the ground, Sinkamba and we will appreciate your efforts.

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  5. Ba Sinkamba,

    I want to join your party. You are the only politician making sense out there. How do I become a member and is the party constitution on-line? Maybe think of getting the good General and Laura Miti on board and we’ll be good to go.

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    • You two chaps how do you join people whose abode you don’t know, that’s why mu zambia mugong’ewa, don’t tell me they are a briefcase party and have no secretariat.

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  6. all the Concourt jugdes should recuse themselves because they were appointed by ECL. how about Sunday Nkonde not recusing himself in the Post case? interest in the way the law is applied in Zambia

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  7. Today it is Hilda Chibomba, tomorrow it will be Anne Sitali… Last time Lewis Mosho was pursuing the Chief Justice… ECL warned Judges. Judge chitabo complained of Judicial Complaint Authority yet the same institution is used agains Hildah Chibomba……Judge chitabo was threatened by Davies Chama over the Mutembo tribunal

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  8. As long as we have people with hidden agendas, no institution in Zambia will ever be impartial. Greed not poverty is the force behind this sad situation. A judge will only side with the highest bidder either from the ruling party or Upnd (it’s only Upnd among opposition parties that can afford a judge ). Pray for the time when a nurse, a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer will come from among those who have a calling in these professions not chancers. And pray for a day when a high court will resign based on principles.

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  9. This guy only opens his mouth once in a while and only when it’s necessary. Not every time some social media creates a falsehood, you hold a press conference.

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    • Some chaps want even to join him when they don’t even know where to find him. These briefcase parties awe sure.

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  10. What Judicuar? In.2012 a named law firm forged documents in my name and sold my farm to Lebanese. The seniour partner of that firm was made a Judge of the High Court. To my surprise a pribate issued at the High Court of my death which facultated the transaction emerged last year. The Lebanese, the lawyers, the magestrate court, the high cour, the proswcutor and my criminal half brothers colluded in order to defraud me of my land. To date I can’t get access to my property. This is the Judiciary

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