Honour our judges

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:15:35 +0000


THE attacks on the Judiciary, which have now been joined by political scavengers, is the worst form of abuse against these men and women of honour clothed with the powers and mandate to enhance the rule of law and protect the human rights of all of us.

It is disgusting to read some of the indignities to which some Zambians attach to the Judiciary in a deliberate scheme to tarnish the image and careers of these noble citizens who have accepted the onerous responsibility to sit on our court benches to adjudicate over the millions of our personal frustrations and omissions we take before them as civil and criminal matters.

We support the advice by Justice Minister Given Lubinda that all those aggrieved by the performance or conduct of our Judiciary officers should not ‘‘climb an anthill or flag post or flag mast to go and shout’’ that a member of the Judiciary was misconducting himself or herself.

As University of Zambia don Alex Ngoma points out, these innuendoes and crude remarks directed at selected members of the Judiciary are meant to intimidate or blackmail them so that they are afraid and recuse themselves from the high-profile cases they are handling.

This conduct is not only a threat to the growth of our democracy but a vicious attack on the independence of the Judiciary. It is an outrage against the people of Zambia.

All reasonable men and women accept that the proper and independent exercise of judicial power lies at the heart of constitutionalism and rule of law in our country. The moment we wantonly criticise, castigate and demean members of the Judiciary were are opening a Pandora’s box whose contents no-one will be able to deal with.

This is how countries have nose-dived from respected constitutional democracies to failed states where impunity and careless talk have given rise to lawlessness and anarchy.

It is sad that some politicians who should know better are being used by narcissists and megalomaniacs to undermine the good order obtaining in the country and replace it with their brand of justice such as the one which drove some of the country’s best legal brains to their graves for steadfastly opposing and exposing their evil machinations to usurp State power.

We wonder how a leader who undresses the Judiciary publicly can have the guts to appear before the same judges to seek justice. What justice?

To ensure justice and fair play, Zambians have established for themselves the Judicial Complaints Authority whose mandate and functions are to investigate any complaint of misconduct or abuse of authority or office by members of the Judiciary.

Although the authority is not invested with the powers to discipline any officer found wanting, it can recommend appropriate action to be taken to ‘‘relevant authorities’’. With distinguished veteran lawyer Patrick Mvunga as its chairman, there is no doubt that the JCA can serve our interests and ensure that no member of the bench gets away with misconduct.

We ask all those citizens with complaints against members of the Judiciary to engage the JCA to seek redress. This shameful campaign of wilfully discrediting our Judiciary by branding judges as being corrupt; arm-twisting and blackmailing them should stop immediately.

Unless we learn to clothe our legal adjudicators with the honour, dignity and the authority they deserve, and must have, we are stripping our own sovereignty of the power of the State. The Judiciary is the adjudicator of the last resort.

No courts, no justice, no Zambia.


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