IT is not correct for Law Association of Zambia president George Chisanga to intimidate Zambians against criticizing wrong judicial decisions. The judiciary is not immune from criticism and it is a fallacy to suggest that criticizing judges amounts to contempt of court.
It is unconscionable that Mr. Chisanga could devote an entire press briefing to criticizing “offending” comments without once addressing the substance of the issue that has raised national controversy, thus conveying the impression that the Judiciary should never be criticized even where it makes totally alien decisions.
There is a logic to law based on case law and other precedence’s which no court can ignore or does so at its own peril. It is under such circumstances that the court opens itself to criticism-justified criticism which sometimes may appear robust and yet justified considering the damage that such a decision may cause to the democratic process.
Mr. Chisanga should take a leaf from former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) Sir Brian Alleyne who has stated very clearly that the court, like any other institution, is not immune from public criticism. “The court is not immune from criticism and the judges of the court individually are not immune from criticism. But criticism must be responsible. When you are dealing with an important institution like the court, which needs, in order for it to do it’s work properly, needs to have, and deserve the respect of the public, I think you need to be particularly careful.”
His caveate however was that such criticism should be responsible, well considered and based on facts, not speculation.
Equally Korean Supreme Court Chief Justice Lee Yong-hoon has stated: “The owner of the judiciary is the people so if the judiciary fails to gain the people’s trust, it loses its reason for existence.”
He told judges that “Trial rights that we exercise come from the people therefore the conscience of judges should not be separate from society and they need to make efforts to gain universal validity.”
We also find it curious and demeaning that Mr. Chisanga took occasion of press briefing to advise the Acting Attorney General “to give guidance to the Government on legal avenues available to it in redressing any grievances that he may have against Justice Chali and or Justice Chitabo in the manner they have handled the matter of the DPP particularly as the matter is still in court”.
This is an affront which we hope Mr. Abraham Mwansa will take issue with because it betrays a very clear bias and deliberate attempt to criticize and more specifically belittle the Government legal team.
Many Zambians have had very serious reason to doubt the impartiality of the LAZ executive when dealing with issues involving the errant DPP.
We join these skeptics and truly doubt that LAZ’s involvement in the matters concerning the DPP were solely motivated by the need to guide the nation.
It is highly provocative for Mr. Chisanga to state “We call on the Government not to abrogate the constitution, the rule of law and due process. LAZ will defend any violation of these tenets of our democracy with vigour and determination.”
He should know that complaints against Mutembo Nchito started as far back as 2002 when he and his business partner Fred M’membe hounded out then Director of Public Prosecution Mukelabai Mukelabai.
The Zambian people want justice to be done. Instead of defending the indefensible LAZ should be demanding for fair play and equity, to allow complainants a fair day at the Tribunal.