As I See: Independent Judiciary Still Unattainable

Chanodi NgwiraBy Chanoda Ngwira

It is interesting to note that we have a system of governance from inception that has somewhat not allowed the other arms of government to function independently.

By this I mean all successive governments since independence in 1964, … be it Dr. Kaunda’s era, Dr. Chiluba’s, Dr. Mwanawasa’s, Mr. Rupiah Banda’s as well as the current government under Mr. Micheal Sata. They have all abused in one way or another the noble institution of the JUDICIARY.

The Judiciary of Zambia is an institution that has been run by great men and women since its inception.

We have had and still have gurus in the legal fraternity running this noble arm of government, we have had experts in law and successful lawyers at the helm of running this institution, however, the problem we are facing is not engineered by any of them, but by our politicians who will stop at nothing to settle scores with their perceived enemies in the political arena, and this settling of scores has unfortunately dented the image of this sensitive arm of government, the JUDICIARY.

To start with, when the MMD came into office in 1992, Dr. Chiluba(MHSRIP), used this institution to settle scores with our first republican President, he made sure Dr. Kaunda was made to dance to his tune by charging the old man with treason, it was the judiciary being used at this point, in as much as there could have been some truth in the allegations labeled against KK, there was some power that was seen influencing the decisions made by the courts of law.

We all know that FTJ had issues with the old man KK from way back in his Trade Union days, so there is no doubt that there was an influence from the Executive to have KK caged no matter what, however this does not imply that KK had no questions to answer, he did, however,it is just that the Judiciary did not independently make whatever decisions where made against Dr. Kaunda.

In addition, we had Mwanawasa coming onto the scene. Levy in my opinion was quite professional with his FIGHT AGAINST CORUPTION, though some sections of society misunderstood his stance, but honestly, I do not think the man had any issue to settle with Dr. Chiluba, all he wanted was the man(FTJ) to pay back what was believed to have been stolen from the Zambian people which in my view was a noble and just cause by the late President Mwanawasa.

However, suspicion started falling on the back of Mwanawasa as an influencer on the Judiciary when the issue of poaching opposition MPs came in, we all know thet Levy poached MPs from Heritage Party, ZRP and these others, and when these parties took issues related to the action that Levy took, it was seen that the judiciary was told what to do on a particular case… This whole thing made this institution lose its value and it was labeled with all sorts of names ranging from corruption, compromised and the like….. sad reading indeed.

Further more, when we had Rupiah Banda at the helm of the Executive, this was the time when we saw a properly compromised Judiciary, we saw the late Vice President George Kunda shifting or rather changing goal posts on the Chiluba London registered judgment, we saw how influencial the Rupiah Banda regime was on our courts on the Chiluba cases which were seen being cleared under unknown circumstances, really, that is how our Judiciary has been compromised and this is with almost all past and present governments.

Finally, we have Mr. Sata in office, no one will argue that the Judiciary under acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesa Kunda, is a toothless institution, we all know that our courts are not independent at all, we all know that most of the case judgments are influenced by the Executive and this trend has grown at a rather sad note.

We have cases where the courts of law would decide on a case, and we see the government through different departments defiling court orders, like in the case of Rupiah Banda’s passport, we have seen court rulings being disregarded by Ministry of Home Affairs, we see RB being blocked at the airport even after getting a go ahead from the courts of law…. and we have issues to do with petitions, the list is endless.