There is urgent need for effective judicial reforms to help inspire credibility in the Zambian Judiciary, says Young African Leaders Initiative president, Andrew Ntewewe.
Ntewewe said the judiciary has been compromised with an increase in the number of acting positions whose lifeline depended on the existence of good relations with the appointing authority.
“In Zambia, there is no protection for Judges which is why there are too many compromised decisions because they operate on contracts. To have an effective Judiciary, we expect that the reforms should help protect the Judges from any form of control or intimidation,” Ntewewe said.
He charged that the current judicial structure was like a rented house where a tenant’s stay depended on good relations with the landlord, failure to which there would be an eviction.
“We are calling for immediate Judicial reforms to remove lapses in the system such as judges working on contracts, which are subject to renewal or termination depending on the appointing authority. Judicial officers have become compromised and their objectivity dimmed in order to keep their jobs which are on the line or to secure a promotion,” Ntewewe said.
Ntewewe said there was no justification in keeping the current acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda in office when she was already in retirement and yet had continued to act for over a year.
He charged that the independence of the three arms of government would entail some form of protection for the judges’ tenure of office especially from the appointing authority. He said it was unfortunate that the Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba, who should be spearheading the process of Judicial reform, was himself under probe for alleged misconduct.
“It is indeed ironic that an acting Chief Justice should appoint an acting Judge to head a Tribunal. How can they be objective when they are both holding temporal promotion jobs? That, we believe compromises their objectivity because they would want to please the appointing authority to keep their jobs,” Ntewewe said.
Ntewewe was commenting on the appointment of acting Supreme Court Judge Rhoida Kaoma to head the Sylvia Masebo Tribunal recently appointed to probe activities in relation to the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA).