[By Fanny Kalonda]
THE Golden Party of Zambia has cautioned the government against using the fast-track courts to fix political opponents and perceived enemies of the ruling party.
Party president Jackson Silavwe has charged that it is an open secret that the current government has gone for those who served in the PF government.
“The step taken by the Chief Justice, Mr Mumba Malila to operationalise Article 133(3) of the Constitution of Zambia and section 3 of the high court Act by establishing a court responsible for economic and financial crimes must be applauded,” he said. “However, we would like to caution the Executive arm of government against using the court to fix political opponents and perceived enemies of the UPND. It is an open secret that the current UPND government has gone for the jugular of the previous PF government.”
Silavwe said he was concerned that the economic and financial court would become a battle ground to settle old political scores.
He added that this might cause right thinking Zambians to frown upon the court just as they poured scorn on the Constitutional Court.
“As a party that believes in impartial justice, rule of law and order, we are concerned that the economic and financial [crimes] court will become a battle ground to settle old political scores,” said Silavwe. “The Constitutional Court of Zambia was largely perceived to serve the interests of the ruling elite under the PF regime, that fate must not befall the Economic and Financial Crimes Court. Thus, Golden Party of Zambia (GPZ) urges the judges of that noble court to be impartial and render judgment without any form of political interference. As GPZ, we support the Chief Justice of Zambia in his quest to bring reforms to our country’s judiciary.”
On Monday, justice Malila said crimes of an economic nature deserve expeditious disposal because of their effect on the economy of the country.
“Criminal prosecution must be instituted against alleged wrongdoers who should be afforded a fair opportunity to answer to allegations against them. Crimes of an economic nature, especially, deserve expeditious disposal because of their effect on the economy of the country. In this connection, I am pleased to announce that administratively an Economic and Financial Crimes Court at the level of the Subordinate Court will soon be operational. It is designed to offer specialised, fast-track court services, and ensure that, all due process requirements being observed, illicitly obtained wealth is speedily recovered and restored to the public fiscus so as to enable the government channel the resources to build that essential road, pay that old village grandmother the social cash transfer money she so badly needs, repair that collapsed roof of the old school; and stock that public hospital with essential drugs,” said justice Malila. “Only last Friday, pursuant to the power entrusted in me by Article 133(3) of the Constitution and section 3(3) of the high court Act, I signed a Statutory Instrument that will establish the Economic and Financial Crimes Division of the High Court for purposes of handling appeals from its Subordinate Court sibling. This, I think, is patriotism. Yet I am convinced that it will call for even greater patriotism on the part of judicial officers and judges that will be assigned to work in these courts. I encourage you all, to link patriotism to the common good with the aim of responding to transgressions of the law in ways which ensure that everyone, or at least the greatest number of the Zambian people, benefit. We must all correlate patriotism with our own contribution to nation building.”