CONSTITUTIONAL lawyer John Sangwa stirred a hornet’s nest when he recently proposed that the position of Chief Justice be advertised so Zambians who felt they qualified could apply for the position.
His main reason for the proposal was to ensure that public confidence is restored in the Judiciary by adopting an open transparent recruitment for this important position.
Of course the suggestion did not go well within the legal fraternity, with some arguing that there was already a system in place on how the vacancy ought to be filled.
Their argument was that the Judicial Service Commission was in place to nominate a suitable candidate whose name would be presented to the President for appointment – subject to ratification by Parliament.
And this time round, Mr Sangwa has suggested that the position of Director-General of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) should be advertised.
Mr Sangwa advised that the ACC top job is advertised to avoid bringing on board people with tainted pasts and skeletons in their closets.
Mr Sangwa has said that there is need to advertise and thoroughly scrutinise suitors before appointing anyone as Director General of the ACC to ensure that a competent person is selected.
Supporting him is a member of the Patriotic Front central committee Mr Raphael Nakacinda who also feels it is important that Constitutional positions of Director of Public Prosecutions and head of the ACC should not be politicised because these are key positions that need impartial individuals of the highest level of integrity.
It is important that Zambians debate this proposal openly and ensure that in the long run, the nation adopts a system that promotes transparency and thus builds confidence in these institutions.
Public confidence in the ACC is at an all-time low especially with the recent revelations in which the former acting Director-General MsRosemary Khuzwayo was heard in an audio leak telling staff to prosecute former Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya.
Even though other senior officers tried to dissuade her that they did not have strong evidence to prosecute, Ms Khuzwayo allegedly insisted they go ahead.
Of course, the Chitalu case was just one of the many cases that has led to the public losing faith in the institution. There are a host of other failed investigations and prosecutions.
This is the more reason that we agree with Mr Sangwa on how to boost confidence in the ACC, that it was imperative for the President to consider advertising the job so that people with a clean track record could be given an opportunity to lead the institution.
Mr Sangwa said by so doing people would have confidence in the institution and the new Director General would have confidence in delivering their duties diligently.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa invited the public to take part in nominating the new Chief Justice, saying he wanted to restore confidence in the Judiciary.
The move in no way takes away the President’s powers to fill the vacancy. He will take his pick from the final list submitted by the committee selecting the Chief Justice.
For Zambians, it is important that flexibility be exercised in filling up such vacancies because they would feel they are part and parcel of the selection process.
Mr Nakacinda said the appointment of the DPP should not be politicised because it was a sensitive position which required someone with a sober mind and of very high integrity without the blemish of previous misconduct including corruption in the acquisition of privatisation assets, which cases were still in courts of law.
Zambians must not be satisfied with the status-quo but learn and adapt to new methods that enhance democracy and the dispensation of justice.