As the Green Party, we troubled by the silence from the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and UPND on the execution of the famous judgment against former ministers. Non-execution of this judgment is wrongly projecting a negative narrative of the Constitutional Court. We blame LAZ and UPND as key culprits of the negative public perceptions for reasons outlined below.
It is now more than two years since judgment was delivered and there no execution. We are troubled because execution or enforcement of a judgment, which follows the logical pronunciation of the same by the judge or magistrate, must be taken seriously as it is one of the most important aspects of the administration of justice in any society where the rule of law thrives. By execution, we mean quite simply the process for enforcing or giving effect to the judgment of the court. It is the last stage of a judicial process after the legal right, claim or interest has been determined on the merit in a judgment or order by the court.
Every judgment must be obeyed and is effective from the date of its delivery or from such a date stated in the judgment itself. The judgment is meant to be obeyed without demand and if there is default in obedience, after a period of grace, which can be between three to fourteen days, as the rules may prescribe, the judgment creditor is entitled to commence enforcement proceedings. A judgment is valid until set aside on appeal, and as such, must be obeyed.
To the best of our knowledge, there is not on appeal on that judgment. And it has not been set aside. Even if it was on appeal, we are not aware of a court order to stay its execution. So, LAZ and UPND are rightly entitled to fruits of that judgment by way of execution. If the judgment is unenforceable, for one reason or the other, LAZ and UPND are duty bound to come out in the open and tell the nation about the development so to clear negative public perceptions.
LAZ, especially, has a constitutional duty to ensure that the public generally hold the view that judges and court staff treat people who have business before the courts with respect and dignity. The positive image of the court system centers on three key aspects: perceptions that the courts meet constitutional obligations to protect rights; that litigants have adequate legal representation; and that judges are well-trained and are honest and fair in individual case decisions. Perceptions that courts are too slow; unfair in the treatment of the opposition and nonentities in society; are out of touch with the public; or are negatively influenced by political considerations, are inimical to the justice system on any nation.
The public should not believe that the courts handle cases in a poor manner. On balance, the public should approve of, and trust the state courts. Overall, public perception should be that courts handle cases in an excellent manner. We urge LAZ to promote this narrative starting with execution of the judgment against former ministers.
Peter Chazya Sinkamba
The Green Party