The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has advised President Hakainde Hichilema not to succumb to the invitation, from respected Constitutional Lawyer John Sangwa advising the Head of State to appoint the new Chief Justice through a transparent process.
In a statement released to the media LAZ, said that President Hichilema would break the law if he succumbed to the invitation, from Mr. John Sangwa, SC, to involve himself in the process the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) should follow in recommending to him who should be appointed as Chief Justice.
“We advise the President to stay clear of the process to be adopted by the JSC in its function of making recommendations to him,” LAZ advised.
LAZ also condemned the generalized attacks by Mr Sangwa on the Judiciary saying this undermined the Judiciary in the performance of its constitutional function.
Below is the full statement
LAZ STATEMENT ON JOHN SANGWA’S LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT
PRESS RELEASE BY THE LAW ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA
The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has taken note of a letter from Mr. John Sangwa, SC to His Excellency, President Hakainde Hichilema, imploring the President to allow the position of the Chief Justice to be publicly advertised. The said letter, which also disparages the Judiciary, is enjoying wide media circulation. LAZ condemns generalised attacks on the Judiciary as this undermines the Judiciary in the performance of its constitutional function.
The Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia is appointed by the President upon the recommendation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), in line with Article 140 of the Constitution of Zambia. According to Article 216 of the Constitution, all Service Commissions, including the JSC, shall be subject only to the Constitution and be independent and not be subject to the control of a person or an authority in the performance of its functions. In this regard, Section 23 of the Service Commissions Act, No. 10 of 2016, permits the JSC to regulate its own procedure. In regulating its procedure, the JSC is at liberty to adopt a more transparent method of scrutiny of candidates before it makes its recommendation to the President.
However, the President, in our view, would fall foul of the law if he succumbed to the invitation, from Mr. John Sangwa, SC, to involve himself in the process the JSC should follow in recommending to the President who should be appointed as Chief Justice. We advise the President to stay clear of the process to be adopted by the JSC in its function of making recommendations to him.
Whilst LAZ accepts that a transparent process in the appointment of the Chief Justice and Judges would greatly assist the Judiciary, the suggestions should not take the form of directives from the President.
It is imperative that the Rule of Law be followed meticulously so as to strengthen and not weaken vital institutions such as the Judiciary.
Dated this 3rd day of October, 2021.
SIGNED: Sokwani Peter Chilembo