UPND presidential advisor Douglas Syakalima says the country’s justice system has fallen apart under chief justice Ireen Mambilima.
And Syakalima has urged justice Mambilima to work hard to redeem herself from the perception Zambians have that the judiciary is compromised.
In an interview with journalists in Lusaka soon after the launch of the Court Reporters’ Association on Thursday, justice Mambilima claimed that the Zambian judiciary was independent as no one interfered with its operations.
She said the judiciary was not compromised as some stakeholders alleged.
The judiciary is not compromised, nobody tells us what to do, nobody tells us how to decide cases. Cases are decided according to the law. We have seen the attacks; unfortunately, we are not at liberty to respond. We don’t respond to those kinds of attacks, we only speak through our judgments,
said justice Mambilima.
But Syakalima wondered why justice Mambilima, who was at the helm of the judiciary, had not responded to the concerns raised by himself, Dr Fred M’membe and Dr Cosmas Musumali over judge Sunday Nkonde’s alleged judicial misconduct if the judiciary still had integrity.
He challenged justice Mambilima to respond to the issues the same way she responded to questions from journalists instead of giving excuses.
We have heard this Amos Chanda lampooning some judges; the executive itself was trying to lampoon the judiciary…When they feel the judgment has not gone their side, they say judges must be warned. Chief Justice Mambilima must realise that perceptions are very difficult to clear. She must work very hard otherwise things have fallen apart in her face,
Syakalima, who is Chirundu UPND member of parliament, said.
“In fact, the judiciary has not also responded to me over the issues I raised about judge Sunday Nkonde. There are a number of us whom they have not responded to over judge Nkonde, a person who is shifting his own cause, what type of behaviour is that? And Mambilima is at the helm of that and she cannot run away from that. In the first place, she responded to questions from journalists, so they can respond in the same manner she responded. Now what she should understand is that the perception of the people of Zambia is that the judiciary is compromised and the perceptions are bigger than the reality she is trying to bring out.”
He said it was clear that Zambians had lost confidence in the Judiciary and that it was up to justice Mambilima to change that perception.
“I was shocked when she said she couldn’t say anything about the Constitutional Court when she is the head of the Judiciary. She just ran away from answering the question, which was put rightly to her. In the Constitution, she is the head of the Judiciary. She is the supervisor, if you like, of every judge, every magistrate. The buck stops at her, so she cannot run away from that. So how they cleanse themselves as the Judiciary is something that she must be now be looking at as the head of the Judiciary because their image is being destroyed whether they like it or not. I have been teaching perception for over 26 years and I know what it means. So she must work very hard to cleanse that perception of the people that the Judiciary is in a compromising situation. In fact, the only institution in Zambia which the citizens still have a little of hope in is the Auditor General; the rest of the institutions are dented. Zambians don’t believe in these institutions anymore,” added Syakalima.
“We know there are isolated judges and magistrates who still give hope to Zambians because in every institution, there are people who remain isolated who still feel they can preserve that institution. So other than Chief Justice Mambilima trying to defend herself, the Zambians otherwise feel things are not right in the judiciary.”