’Judiciary Should Have Financial Autonomy’

The Judiciary should have financial autonomy to determine its priorities, Kitwe High Court Judge-In-Charge Catherine Makungu has said.

Ms Justice Makungu said there was need to have the financial autonomy in the Judiciary to avoid bureaucracy in acquiring funds.

The Judge was responding to Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs chairperson Jack Mwiimbu who said the committee was aware that the Judiciary had been making submissions to have financial autonomy to determine priorities.

Ms Justice Makungu said the Judiciary was faced with a number of challenges such as inadequate funding, lack of infrastructure and transport problems.

She said recently two magistrates at the Kitwe Subordinate courts were evicted for failing to settle rental arrears.

“I agree we need to have financial autonomy, there is too much bureaucracy and we end up suffering. Recently we had a very unfortunate incident where two magistrates were evicted for failing to pay rentals.

“It is difficult for us because if we had funds, we would have paid, unlike the situation where those in authority would tell you there is no money,” she said.

The Judge added that the Judiciary was not adequately funded and in some cases, phone lines had been disconnected for failure to settle bills and failing to purchase office equipments such as printers and cabinet units.

Ms Justice Makungu said in the last two years, the Kitwe High Court was under renovations but that funds were not enough to complete the renovations and the computerisation process of the courts.

She said there were only three Judges when they were supposed to be five.

Ms Justice Makungu said there was a shortage of books in the library and at times Judges have had to request for books from well to do law firms which was not a good situation.

Chief Resident Magistrate Davies Mumba said inadequate transport to ferry prisoners under the Kitwe District had received minimal attention from the relevant authorities.

The parliamentary committee comprising Mushili Malama, Michael Kaingu, Annie Chungu, James Kapyanga, Brian Ntundu, Maxas Ng’onga, Sydney Mushanga and Mr Mwiimbu was in Kitwe to discuss matters affecting the Judiciary.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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