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Changala praises Kenyan judiciary

GOOD governance activist Brebner Changala has proposed that the new government constitutes a commission of inquiry against Constitutional Court office bearers.

He charges that the Constitutional Court churns out judgments “which are ambiguous, that lack clarity and that have brought confusion to the administration of justice in this country.”

In a scathing ruling on Friday, five High Court judges in Kenya blocked a government-backed plan to make fundamental changes to the country’s constitution.

According to BBC, the judgement is arguably the most significant ruling by Kenyan courts since President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election win was nullified in 2017.

The judges said the constitution amendment bill, popularly referred to as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), was irregular, illegal and unconstitutional.

Commenting on the story, Changala said the Zambian judiciary had failed the people when they needed it the most.

“In Zambia we have a tragedy in which the arm of government, the Judiciary, is not ashamed to become an accessory in the destruction of our democratic institutions. They have become an appendage of the Executive,” he said. “And when I say the Judiciary, I specifically mean the Constitutional Court. This is the more reason that as we go to the general elections and a new government is sworn into office, the first assignment should be to constitute a commission of inquiry on the competence of the Constitutional Court office bearers – their merits and how they meet the requirements of the Constitution as designed by drafters of the law. The Constitutional Court in this country is a danger to national security, and it must not be taken lightly.”

Changala said he could not understand “where we have lost it, that other jurisdictions can make use of the independence of their separate institutions that constitute a government.”

He said two of the three arms of “our government” have failed to exercise complete independence even when the Constitution guarantees them so.

“But in this country, we have the Executive, we have the Legislature and we have the Judiciary. How they have allowed the Executive to capture the Legislature and the Judiciary is baffling, is amazing and to some extent it’s banditry. I like using the word banditry when the law is taken for granted,” Changala added.

He acknowledged that Kenyan, Malawian and South African judiciaries had always given hope to the continent.

“… that where dictators and lawbreakers take charge of these countries there’s still hope that one arm of the government can save the entire nation from being captured by a bunch of elected criminals who use the people’s vote to entrench themselves in perpetual governance of a country,” Changala said. “I must give credit and praise the Kenyan judiciary to overrule a parliamentary decision that was brought by the executive to legitimise a wrong that was not solicited by the people – the electorate and the nation at large. That is how a credible arm of government should operate – independently as an oversight [body].”

He wondered why the Zambian Judiciary has allowed itself to be captured by the Executive arm of government.

“We have a judiciary that is becoming an arm of the Executive and it’s not even ashamed. We have a Judiciary that is churning out some of the substandard judgments. We have judges, despite being armed with judicial support in terms of legal assistants, research officers; but most importantly armed with security of tenure they still behave as if they are a bunch that can be fired by an appointing authority,” said Changala. “The patronage to the Executive by our Judiciary…is frightening. The Constitutional Court churns out judgments which are ambiguous, that lack clarity and that have brought confusion to the administration of justice in this country.”

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