Copperbelt-based good governance activist Peter Mulenga has backed the judicial and constitution reforms proposal made by President Hakainde Hichilema.
Speaking at State House during a special edition of the Red Hot Breakfast Show recently, President Hichilema suggested that judicial reforms will address injustices such as prolonged detention of suspects.
President Hichilema described the continued detention of former Patriotic Front (PF) Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri without trial as unacceptable.
The President says there is a need to unblock the justice delivery, offload the backlog of cases and to ensure each high court at least has a resident judge as opposed to currently where there are no resident judges in many places.
Reacting to President Hichilema’s comment, Mr. Mulenga said judicial and constitution reforms in Zambia were long overdue.
He said currently there were anomalies in the way the Judiciary and Ministry of Home Affairs were operating in relation to justice dispensation.
Mr. Mulenga said the Chief Justice should take note of the President’s comments and take practical steps toward reforming the Judiciary.
“As a good governance activist, I wish to agree with President Hakainde Hichilema that the continued detention of former Patriotic Front-PF Deputy Secretary General Mumbi Phiri without trial is unacceptable. Many people, not only President Hichilema, have been asking questions regarding Mrs Phiri’s prolonged detention without seeing a judge. This is injustice and that is why President Hichilema as suggested judicial reforms to address such injustices,” Mr. Mulenga said.
“Judicial reforms being proposed by the head of state are long overdue as Zambia fights to reduce injustices in the judiciary. The Chief Justice should take note of the President’s comments and take practical steps toward reforming the Judiciary. I am not shocked by the head of state’s revelation that Mrs Phiri’s arrest was pending before the change of government last year,” he said.
Mr. Mulenga charged that in the past the Judiciary and the Ministry of Home Affairs have been abused by politicians and some civil servants.
“I am aware that the police command then led by former Inspector General Mr. Kanganja played double standards by not following the law on the matter. Speaking at State House during a special edition of the Red Hot Breakfast Show, President Hichilema wondered why Mrs Phiri was not arrested sooner based on the video in which she insinuated that she was at the crime scene and that her failure to report the crime was in itself a crime as well. This is an example of how the judiciary and Home Affairs Ministry was being abused by the Patriotic Front regime,” Mr. Mulenga said.
Mr. Mulenga concluded:”Indeed there is a need to unblock the justice delivery, offload the backlog of cases and to ensure each high court at least has a resident judge as opposed to currently where there are no resident judges in many places. I further support the need for constitutional reforms to stop by elections and ensure parliamentary tenure of office runs for a full 5 years. It is gratifying to note that cabinet has approved changes to the public order act which is currently under consultations and that the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) act will be amended to speak to current needs with enhanced CDF.”