The government is planning to appoint ten new judges outside the normal vetting procedures, to ensure a firm grip on the Judiciary.
According to judiciary sources the new judges will not be vetted by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) but will instead be presented directly to Parliament where the Patriotic Front (PF) now enjoys numerical advantage thereby ensuring their ratification.
The new judges, it is widely speculated will be expected to handle all the sensitive political cases to ensure favorable outcomes and the few independent minded judges will be sidelined while others will be retired.
The ten judges have been head hunted by ministry of justice officials assisted by some powerful friends of the government.
This new procedure is contrary to the existing system where prospective Judges are asked to apply through the Judicial Service Commission which interviews them for suitability before submitting the names to security agencies and the Law Association of Zambia for further scrutiny and there after the names are submitted to the President who coveys them to parliament for ratification.
In this case however, the ten names are expected to go directly to the President and then to parliament where the PF has a simple majority to have them rubber stamped.
The intention, according to the source was to fuse the ten judges into the system and systematically retire all the uncooperative judges who have been issuing rulings inimical to the executive.
“The difficult judges will at first be sidelined by not giving them sensitive political cases which will now go to the new judges,” he said.
The new system of recruiting judges is being attributed to a process of judicial reforms but lawyers contacted by the Daily Nation indicated that no major changes had been made in the recruitment of judges.
Last week PF Secretary General who is also Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba complained that there were judges in the judiciary who were making political decisions but were being paid by the government.
Mr. Kabimba was quoted as saying, “nowhere in a despotic state would you have a judiciary making political decisions and have judges paid by taxpayers by that government.”