SOCIALIST Party spokesperson Rehoboth Kafwabulula says access to justice means having an impartial judge to hear one’s case.
Meanwhile, Kafwabulula notes that women are the core driving force to run every community.
She stresses that National Democratic Congress (NDC) president Chishimba Kambwili, who is imprisoned, deserves a re-trial.
Kafwabulula featured on Choma’s Your Generation (YG) radio on Thursday evening.
She explained that Kambwili’s conviction and sentencing by Lusaka Magistrates’ Court principal resident magistrate David Simusamba leaves one to question whether or not he had a fair trial, in the first case.
Kambwili’s bail application pending appeal was also thrown out by magistrate Simusamba on Thursday for being irregular.
He remains incarcerated at Kamwala Correctional Facility in Lusaka.
The opposition leader has since filed a fresh notice of appeal and bail application would be heard on Monday.
“Mr Kambwili was charged, I believe sometime last year, with forgery. We’ve decided not to speak so much on the merits and demerits of the case, primarily because we’ve not been attending court sessions and we are not privy to some of the information,” Kafwabulula, who is completing her law degree next year, said.
“So, we won’t speak to things we don’t know. But what we do know is this; Dr Kambwili did complain about the magistrate hearing his case – that’s magistrate Simusamba. This is also a magistrate who has had complaints received about him by the Judicial Complaints Commission.”
She added: “the Commission, in fact, has gone a step further to say this is a magistrate who shouldn’t be listening to cases, in the first place.”
“So, what that does essentially, especially now that he (Kambwili) has been convicted, is that it leaves one to question whether or not he had a fair trial, in the first place.”
“For you to have a fair trial, the prerequisite is for you to have an impartial judge. You can’t have somebody deciding your matter who you have complained about very vocally in the past, and then tomorrow you expect them to give you a very fair judgment. That’s not how the judicial process should work,” Kafwabulula explained.
She further argued that on the basis of the foregoing, “our position is that the man should have a re-trial.”
“Simply because he is a politician doesn’t mean he should be denied justice,” Kafwabulula noted.
She further noted that one of the most prominent things in the Socialist Party manifesto was that every Zambian should have access to justice.
“Access to justice doesn’t mean just having a good lawyer. Access to justice also means having an impartial judge to hear your case, so that irrespective of the outcome, you are at least confident that your matter was heard and even if you are happy or not happy, the law has taken its course. There should be no doubt in that respect,” she noted.
“So, for us, Mr Kambwili deserves a re-trial and that’s the first thing.”
Kafwabulula also spoke about the “brutal” arrest of Kambwili’s wife, Carol, and daughter, Chanda.
She said videos have gone round on social media showing how: “the two ladies were brutally manhandled by the police.”
Kafwabulula noted that there was a ‘better’ way to arrest people.
“There is no need to exert excessive force on people. What we saw in the videos was excessive force against these two women, who did not deserve it,” she said.
“These are women who are not armed robbers to be treated with that level of brutality. So, for us that was a completely wrong action by the police.”
Asked to speak to women’s participation in national politics, Kafwabulula responded that: “women have been put on the back banner, in terms of participation in the country’s political dispensation.”
“You know that women are in the forefront in terms of running the community. You go to any community today, whether it’s Choma, Chitokoloki, Chawama in Lusaka, you’ll notice that women are the ones who make sure that the churches, markets, are running and they are the ones who make sure that children are going to school,” she said.
“So, they are like the core driving force to make sure that the community is running. But when you look at who is the leader of the community, often it’s dominated by a male face. Women do participate in community matters but often when it comes to issues of leadership, they are sidelined.”
Kafwabulula pointed out that women could no longer remain cooking at home.
“It’s not possible! What we are running is a country [and] not a company or a kantemba (makeshift store). What we are running is a country and we need it to have a national character. Often times when we discuss national character, we are talking about tribe. ‘This tribe is running things’ but national character must extend beyond regions, tribe and which ethnicities are in what office. It must go down to how much representation is given to women, to youths,” Kafwabulula noted.
“If women are not represented in Parliament, in Cabinet, how then are we going to say the policy and the law being created are going to favour women and young people? This is why the Socialist Party has a 50 – 50 quota; we’ve said 50 per cent of our candidates are going to be women – both for the parliamentary and the local government seats.”
She added that so far, “we’ve adopted about 12 candidates; five of whom are women.”
“We are lagging behind a bit [but] by December we should have rectified our mistake in that respect. But we have a policy in place that women we’ll be represented, no matter what,” said Kafwabulula.