Demonising courts

THE judiciary as an arm of government, alongside the Executive and the Legislature, performs its definite role in the governance structure.

The judiciary is mandated to interpret laws promulgated by the Legislature which the Executive must execute through the various government ministries and departments.

The assenting into law of the amended Constitution early this year saw the creation of two more courts: the Court of Appeal and the Constitutional Court.

It is public knowledge that, the Constitutional Court, for instance, has in the recent past weeks passed judgments which have not been well received by some sections of our society.

The criticism of the court particularly reached its climax at the height of the presidential election petition in which the United Party of National Development (UPND) had challenged the re-election of Republican President Edgar Lungu and his running mate the Vice President Ms Inonge Wina in the August 11 general elections.

It must be underscored here that this was not the first and only decision that the Constitutional Court has passed since its operationalisation.

The court, among the many historic decisions, held that the continued stay in office of Cabinet ministers after the the dissolution of parliament between May and August 11 was unconstitutional and illegal and ordered them to pay back the money drawn through salaries and allowances.

When this judgment was made, the court was praised and held in very high esteem for being competent and professional for passing such a decision.

No allegations of incompetence, corruption or unprofessional conduct were levelled against the judiciary.

We note with serious concern that there is an emerging trend by different organisations and individuals to embark on a crusade to demonise and discredit the judiciary whenever the courts do not pass judgment in their favour.

Why should one expect the courts to always rule in their favour?

The outcome of legal dispute brought before the courts of law is dependent on a number of factors among the strength of the argument and how well the litigant has persuaded the courts to agree with them and the weight of evidence adduced.

It is a fallacy to hold the view that when the courts of law rule against the litigants, it means that the judges are incompetent, unprofessional, corrupt and compromised.

Holding such a view is choosing to deliberately live in self-denial of the realities of the set of facts that each case presents for adjudication.

This is particularly true when the judiciary is only seen to be incompetent because it has passed decisions against you or your closest allies.

We think that our courts of law, as arbiters, always endeavour to play a neutral role in adjudicating legal disputes between parties. As a result, it is vital to respect the outcome of the due process of law by either party.

It is unfortunate that some qualified lawyers are in the forefront of discrediting the judiciary, a fraternity to which they are members. Surprisingly, the regulatory body, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is mute or indeed slow to condemn such utterances.

Our court judges have very limited avenues through which to defend themselves against such allegations of corruption and LAZ must be proactive to correct the miscued impression created by some disgruntled individuals in order to preserve the sanctity of the courts and judges.

Categorized | Editorial

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