Slowly but surely the pervasive culture of fear is permeating the country.
The Politics of fear reminiscent of the one party state of the UNIP dark days are back, more malevolent and indeed more menacing.
There is a fear of the Special Branch, that force with a ubiquitous presence in all institutions and facilities, even walls now have ears.
Not even the cell phone or worse still e-mails are safe. Big brother is watching.
Citizen arrests are made for people insulting the President although a Bemba saying clearly states that “Kumbali kutukwa imfumu.”
Slowly but surely paranoia is reaching crescendo levels as speculation is rife that the Patriotic Front has infiltrated officers in the Police force, army, Airforce and in such strategic establishment as Zesco and the Banks.
In fact the speculation is that a parallel intelligence system now exists because the political leadership has no faith in the Government establishment in spite of the fact that a number of individuals close to the leadership have been fused into it.
The result of all this is fear and uncertainty.
At the Judiciary the very presence of Malawian Judge Lovemore Chikopa, who we hear has now been elevated to supreme court judge in order to be at par with the senior most judge he will be prosecuting, can not give any assurance to our bench.
Our Zambian judges know that without the strenuous, spirited and aggressive judicial effort three of their colleagues would have been put to pasture because they offended the ruling clique.
That is why we fully support the sentiments by Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda over the need for President Sata to ensure that measures are taken to fill the position of Chief Justice using the most transparent and open manner. This will serve to give confidence to the Judges and the public at large.
The role of the Chief Justice among other things is to buffer the individual Judges from the influence, control and at times vulgarizes imposed by the executive. The President should not have the power and influence to reach into and discipline individual judges without using the appropriate mechanisms.
What has transpired with Judge Chikopa does not give us confidence.
The insulation of the Judiciary from the legislature and the executive ensures that individuals will enjoy the rule of law and that their rights will be protected.
The judiciary is indeed the pillar of our Constitutional democracy, in spite of the growing crisis of integrity which must be addressed by well targeted reforms that must be directed at ensuring the independence of the institution while ensuring internal coherence and integrity.
We totally share the view that the judiciary has a sacred duty to help ensure stability within the polity through the promotion of the rule of law, strict guardianship of the Constitution, and constant and unfailing application of the principles of justice.
In this regard the Judiciary should act as a restraining influence on the likely excesses of the Executive by inculcating a tradition of respect for the law.
It is disgraceful, for example that blatant abuses of the law including open criminality are disregarded by the rightghtful institutions because of selective prosecution. We have for example the cases of abuse of funds by senior Government officials, the assault and injury of opposition by a Minister who remains in Government and indeed the abuses of the electoral code which are left unprosecuted.
These matters and incidents erode people’s confidence in the existence of the rule of law.
Zambians must feel confident enough to bring these matters to courts of law to ensure adherence to law.