President Hakainde Hichilema’s recent appointment of 20 judges to the Zambian judiciary has come under scrutiny following the appointment of Arnold Mweetwa Shilimi as the Deputy President of the Constitutional Court. Shilimi, a businessman with no known history of law practice or interest in constitutional matters, has raised concerns among the public and legal experts alike.
Shilimi, who owns a milling plant and produces Amaka Mealie Meal under Pine Milling Company, has no known history of constitutional activism or practice. While he recently formed a law practice, becoming a senior partner in Mwansa, Phiri, Shilimi & Theu Legal Practitioners in Lusaka Province, many legal experts question his qualifications for such a high office in the judiciary.
The appointment has sparked concerns about the potential for political influence in the judiciary. Many fear that the appointment of a businessman with no experience in constitutional matters is an indication of political favoritism rather than a commitment to ensuring a competent and independent judiciary. This appointment could also raise questions about the integrity of the Zambian judiciary and its ability to remain independent.
The judiciary plays a crucial role in any democratic society, and it is vital that its members are qualified and impartial. The appointment of Arnold Mweetwa Shilimi as Deputy President of the Constitutional Court raises questions about whether the judiciary will be able to fulfill its role effectively. While President Hakainde Hichilema has the constitutional authority to appoint judges, he must ensure that these appointments are based on merit and experience and not influenced by political considerations.
Many legal experts have called on the government to reconsider the appointment of Shilimi and ensure that any further appointments to the judiciary are made based on merit and experience. The judiciary must be free from political influence and remain independent to ensure that justice is served for all citizens of Zambia. This is a critical time for the Zambian judiciary, and the public will be watching closely to ensure that it remains fair and impartial.