PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has appointed Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) chairperson Justice Irene Mambilima as new Chief Justice.
And opposition political party leaders have described Justice Mambilima as a brave and capable judge to run the judiciary to the expectation of the Zambian people.
This is according to a statement made available to the Daily Nation by Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda.
Justice Mambilima replaces Justice Lombe Chibesakunda who will continue to serve pending her retirement with full benefits as the former awaits to be ratified by Parliament.
Mr. Chanda said Justice Mambilima, whose substantive position was Deputy Chief Justice before she was seconded to the ECZ as chairperson, would take over from Justice Chibesakunda, who retires with full benefits.
“President Lungu has directed that Justice Chibesakunda will continue in the post until her successor has been ratified. The President’s decision is pursuant to Article 93 of the Constitution of Zambia which stipulates that: “The Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice shall, subject to ratification by the National Assembly, be appointed by the President,” said Mr. Chanda.
And opposition political party leaders said the appointment of Justice Mambilima was welcome although long overdue.
United Liberal Party (ULP) president Sakwiba Sikota said Justice Mambilima was a brave and bold judge whose experience and resilience would add value to the judiciary.
Mr. Sikota said Justice Mambilima was a competent judge whose credibility could not be questioned and therefore, should be supported by all well-meaning Zambians.
“She is a competent judge; she is up to the job. She has excelled at ECZ in the manner she has conducted herself. For me it is the best appointment pending parliamentary ratification,” said Mr. Sikota.
He expressed happiness saying the appointment of Justice Mambilima brings to an end the controversy surrounding Justice Chibesakunda.
People’s Party president Mike Mulongoti said nothing can be taken away from Justice Mambilima because she was deputy Chief Justice and after the retirement of Chief Justice Earnest Sakala she was a substantive Chief Justice.
Mr. Mulongoti however said there were many challenges Justice Mambilima should address in the judiciary pertaining to meaningful judicial reforms aimed at improving justice delivery in the country.
All People’s Party president Nason Msoni described the appointment as the best, adding that President Lungu had shown commitment to reforms in the judiciary.
Mr. Msoni said Zambians should be excited and that there was no better appointment than this which could give hope and a new direction in the judiciary.
“The demand for reforms in the judiciary could not come at a better time than the appointment of the new Chief Justice.
We believe that President Lungu attaches great importance to the judiciary hence this competent appointment in Justice Mambilima,” he said.
And National Democratic Party president Tentani Mwanzah described Justice Mambilima as incorruptible and a woman with high moral values with unquestionable integrity to hold the office of Chief Justice.
Mr. Mwanzah said the controversy which surrounded the appointment of Justice Chibesakunda had now been dealt with.
“I have to congratulate President Lungu for this sober appointment because it has ended the controversy surrounding Justice Chibesakunda. It has been done in the best interest of the people of Zambia and the judiciary itself. The judge we are talking about has shown strong moral values, she is incorruptible, has high integrity as shown at the time she was at ECZ.
She is able to handle pressure and make difficult decision in the best interest of the law,” said Mr. Mwanzah.
Meanwhile, President Lungu also appointed former Zambia Daily Mail managing director Anthony Mukwita as deputy ambassador to Sweden.
When contacted for a comment, Mr Mukwita said the appointment was an honour.