Judiciary not immune from criticism – Lungu

 

By Nation Reporter

THE Judiciary is not immune to criticism and public scrutiny, President Edgar Lungu has said.

The President has come to the defence of his press aide, Amos Chanda, who has been under intense criticism for advising the judiciary not to fall into the temptation of being seen to be participating in partisan politics.

President Lungu has since asked the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) to repeat the Sunday Interview programme on which Mr Chanda said there was growing discontent in the Patriotic Front (PF) with the manner some judges had handled the election petitions.

Speaking to journalist upon arrival from Tanzania at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKAI) yesterday, President Lungu said the judiciary, like all other arms of government was prone to criticism.

“We need to know that all of us are open to criticism in one way or the other. The Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature are not immune to criticism. We cannot say the Legislature, Executive or even the Judiciary cannot be criticized,” President Lungu said.

The Head of State said all arms of government should be criticized but that such criticism should be within the boundaries of respect and decency for the roles the various arms of government performed.

President Lungu has emphasised that he had a lot of respect for the judiciary and that his actions in the past had proved his respect for the courts of law.

“I have always respected the judiciary and if I did not, I would not have sat down in State House and waited for them to adjudicate after elections. I did not and I do not think Amos (Chanda) would go and do something different because he is my Spokesperson and he understands my sentiments about the judiciary,” President Lungu said.

President Lungu has asked ZNBC to air the Sunday Interview which featured Mr Chanda stating that his critics were twisting and politicising his press aide statement.

“I will ask ZNBC to air the interview on Thursday after news so that we can all hear for ourselves what he said and then I will comment if there will be need. Probably we just want to politicise whatever he said. So I say let us tune in on Thursday after the news and we listen to what he said then we debate. You know why I am saying this…Zambians depend on hearsay, opinion and want to run with what others think so I am saying let us listen to what Amos  (Chanda) said then we can debate,” President Lungu said.

The President said he had spoken to Mr Chanda who had explained that he did not say anything to warrant the kind of criticism and the bashing he was receiving from some sections of society.

Lungu, Wina immune to court processes

 

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu and Vice-President Inonge Wina enjoy absolute immunity and cannot be party to any legal or civil process before any court in Zambia and beyond, says Lusaka High Court Justice Mwila Chitabo.

This was in a ruling delivered at the High Court yesterday in a matter where Attorney General Likando Kalaluka challenged the inclusion of President Lungu and Mrs Wina as respondents in a legal suit challenging their victory in the August 11, 2016, general elections.

UPND president Hakainde Hichilema and his vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba cited President Lungu and his Vice-President and the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), the Attorney General, Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima, her deputy Justice Marvin Mwanamwambwa and the Constitutional Court in the matter.

Mr Justice Chitabo said he acknowledged a Supreme Court ruling which upheld that a President enjoyed full immunity from any legal suit as long as he remained in office, and as a lower court, he could not overturn a ruling of a superior court.

He said even the petitioners had not argued the fact that the President enjoyed immunity as did his Vice President, which was provided for in the law.

“Having thus traversed the written submissions, the skeleton arguments and oral submissions and having taken care to consider the judicial precedents in support of all parties’ interests, I have come to a firm conclusion that the respondents’ applications are meritorious on account of immunity provisio in respect of all respondents except the 4th respondent (Attorney General);  that the petition does not disclose a cause of action and the petition does not comply with the rules relating to protection of fundamental rights promulgated in 1969.

“I therefore make the following order(s) that the respondents 1,2,3,5,6,7  namely President Chagwa Lungu, Inonge Mutukwa Wina (Vice President), the Electoral Commission of Zambia, the Chief Justice of Zambia, the Deputy Chief Justice of Zambia and the Constitutional Court are hereby disjoined from the proceedings,” Mr Justice Chitabo said.

Mr Hichilema had charged that his rights and that of his co-petitioner were violated when the Constitutional Court decided to dismiss the presidential election petition challenging the decision by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to declare President Lungu and his running mate Ms Wina as winners of the August 11, 2016, general election without such a declaration by the Constitutional Court.

But Mr Kalaluka argued in his application he was the only eligible respondent among the seven cited in the case because while the first two were immune from any legal process, he was mandated by law as Attorney General to represent them in any legal case. And Mr Justice Chitabo upheld that the Republican Constitution provided for the protection from legal suit of anybody holding the Office of President.

Mr Justice Chitabo said although the High Court was also a superior court, it would be folly for him to disregard the interpretation of the Constitutional Court to dismiss court proceedings before the determination of the matter.

Mr Kalaluka applied for the misjoinder of all parties except himself as he was already mandated as Government legal advisor to represent public institutions in legal proceedings.

The UPND had asked the court to quash the decision by the Constitutional Court that halted proceedings of a presidential petition to allow their case to be heard and determined in line with Article 18 (9) of the Constitution.

Criticism of Judiciary

 

IT is a misconception and misinterpretation of the law to impute that the independence of the Judiciary implies immunity to public scrutiny.

The judgments that courts pass are public documents which can be made subject to analysis and scrutiny where necessary.

What is not in order and contemptuous is commenting on an active court case for fear that either party to the case might be deprived of justice as public opinion has the potential to influence the outcome of the court process.

In this vein, it is a serious error to think that scrutinising the judicial officers is intimidating the Judiciary. These officers are amenable to such public criticism.

What must be understood is that the judges who are in the driving seat of the Judiciary are public officers like any other such officials. If they fall short of people’s expectation, they, like any other public officers, put themselves in the firing range.

The Zambian governance system hinges on the doctrine of separation of powers where each branch of Government has a distinct role to play and no one branch should interfere in the other’s function.

For avoidance of doubt, Parliament makes the law, the executive implements the law while the Judiciary interprets the law.

And each of these arms of Government culminates into public offices whose work and conduct spontaneously attract public scrutiny.

Some of the reasons for this might be obviously known owing to the fact that the public officers charged to carry out the responsibility must offer a service to the public in tandem with the widely accepted standards.

Whenever any of these arms of Government veers off the widely accepted distinctive roles, they fall prey to public criticism.

The mere fact that each arm of Government plays a distinguished role does not insulate any of them from vitriol, including the Judiciary, however sensitive it is.

The manner in which the court justices handle their work must be beyond reproach and unquestionable by the right thinking members of the public.

For instance, the drama that characterised the presidential election petition at the Constitutional Court clearly put the judges on a pedestal. They opened themselves up to a barrage of criticism because the inconsistency on the interpretation of the 14-day period displayed incompetence on their part.

If judges fail to guide the nation on the concise interpretation of the law, should they be immune to public criticism in the name of the independence of the judiciary?

We do not think so. As alluded to, the Judiciary is a public arm of Government and the officers thereof are not immune to scrutiny.

As such, we are taken aback at the double standards some opposition political parties and civil society organisations have continued to exhibit.

Why should it always be an issue whenever the governing party expresses displeasure at the manner the Judiciary has superintended over some cases?

The members of the ruling PF are citizens of this country who reserve the right to express themselves whenever things are not done the right way.

We agree with President Edgar Lungu when he says that the Judiciary and the Legislature are equally amenable to criticism like the Executive arm of Government. No arm of Government is superior to the other.

TODAY’S LETTERS

LAZ is a political party

Dear Editor,

The Law Association of Zambia has become a political party. I, therefore, fully support the application for another professional body that will represent the professional interests of the legal fraternity in Zambia.

The current LAZ has no clue about assisting the country navigate through the various legal difficulties that the country is facing but would rather take confrontational political stances in support of the opposition.

This should not be the role of a professional body. Such bodies must conduct themselves with dignity and decorum to command the respect of the populace and not seek cheap political popularity with political organisations and individuals the leadership is affiliated to.

Zambians are not dull, they know the social relationships that drive certain initiatives that are disguised as being apolitical.

In this regard LAZ affiliation to the UPND is a known fact.

The affiliation of LAZ to the UPND was fully demonstrated by the joint application the two made to the Constitutional Court concerning Ministers who were serving after Parliament was dissolved.

That application was a Trojan horse intended to derail the entire election. Hakainde Hichilema said as much. He expects the Constitutional Court to annul the elections.

Zambians of goodwill will not allow this country to be derailed by selfish and power hungry individuals who are intent on usurping the will of the people.

Therefore, the current efforts to use the judiciary to supplant the will of the people will not work, and if push comes to shove, Zambians are ready to take on the powers that be.

The cartel tried and failed and nobody can succeed against the will of the people, however, powerful and cunning.

This country has a President voted into office by the people. Judges who disregard this fact, do so at their own peril because the law does not support them.

Francis Katewende

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Zambian judiciary on trial

Dear Editor,

Racism is a highly sensitive and serious issue but is nullifying Lusaka Central PF Member of Parliament Margaret Mwanakatwe’s seat for the use of an umbilical cord narrative a bit barmy?

The ruling party PF seems to think so.

A High Court Judge recently ruled that Margaret Mwanakatwe’s umbilical cord campaign message was intended to incite racial hatred and as such did break the country’s electoral and racism laws.

It has taken three months to reach this conclusion, since the UPND election petition was lodged in court, but is it the right one?

Certainly, not for the Lusaka Central PF Member of Parliament who has since appealed against the decision.

Nor for the ruling party which has said that courts should at all costs avoid the temptation of acting in a manner that would make them appear to be participating in politics.

The controversy led to the opposition UPND accusing the PF and President Edgar Lungu of controlling the judiciary by speaking against the decisions of some of the judges in the nullification of some parliamentary seats (“Judiciary compromised say UPND”, Daily Nation, November 29, 2016).

But not everybody thought this as a good and sensible sentiment, particularly that the UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema was on record as having declared that if he was not going to win the August 11 general elections, he was going to get his victory through the courts.

Well-meaning Zambians called this declaration ridiculous and political correctness gone mad.

There can be no doubt that the UPND leader has the capacity to offend those in authority.

Even the Constitutional Court president who presided over his presidential election petition after his lawyers dramatically abandoned him at the eleventh hour in court, was uneasy about extending the petition hearing beyond the 14-days legal jurisdiction and just shed tears.

Incidentally, PF supporters, however, are furious, and have mounted a counter-offensive to turn the two controversial judges, who hail from the same ethnic community as Hakainde Hichilema, into items of judicial scorn.

Is it a matter of the lesser of the two evils racism or tribalism? Watch Zambia’s judicial space.

Mubanga Luchembe,

LUSAKA

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When does the two term mandate end?

Dear Editor,

With many Zambian political party leaders engulfed in what has become known as the third term bid by their high ranking members, I am now wondering as to why such a scenario should be allowed if not for greediness.

Patriotic Front went to the convention to elect its leader, who is now the Republican President as mandated by the PF Party Constitution and I am wondering why the rest cannot take a leaf from that.

In politics, I have said many times that power is with the people as enshrined in various party constitutions.

It now sends a shiver through my spinal cord when I hear that some political parties don’t want to go for conventions as enshrined in their party constitutions but want to continue in leadership.

Why should a genuine political party use underhand method to change its own constitution at will when the same should only be done at a convention? Why do these leaders fear conventions?

Why are they scared to putting themselves on the chopping board for competitiveness to prove that they are actually formed on democratic tenets?

Are these political parties ‘wamuyaya parties’ for their top leaders such that they don’t know when the two term mandate ends for them to be engulfed in perpetual leadership squabbles?

How then should you champion democracy to prevail in Zambia when you fail to do the same within your own party?

Charity begins at home, so please go for a convention and allow democracy to prevail at all cost.

Failure to hold conventions by most political parties has created this scenario and it now goes to show that their failure to do so is deliberate to hold on to power.

Just thinking loudly.

Wisdom Muyunda

CHINGOLA

Can UPNDF please leave the Judiciary alone?

Dear Editor,

I wish to differ with UPND strong man Stephen Katuka who today claims that that the Judiciary is compromised.

Is it because some judges have been condemned for their utterances in their judgements recently by those in power?

Of course, some of the judgments certainly do not pass the mark and do not make sense even to the lowest layman.

How can the burying of the umbilical cord for instance be regarded racist?

But I also remember UPND leader HH calling our judges all sorts of names, yet he is currently busy using them to try and secure what he calls fair justice.

Mr Katuka, just recently some PF MPs lost their seats in some of the judges’ landmark judgements, does that still not impress you?

Sometimes, it is better to give praise where it is due instead of resorting to wholesale condemnation. That does not help anyone.

For me, I think the Judiciary has done remarkably well and perhaps that’s the more reason that the ruling PF is today crying blue murder.

I am more than sure that it is the same compromised judiciary you will be running to whenever aggrieved. So where is your point?

Let us give the men and women of the courts respect and courage so that they can perform their duties’ to the best of their abilities instead of unfair condemnation.

Moffat Zulu

TODAY’S TEXT MESSAGES

Shocked by disregard of the President

Editor,

How could a judge suggest that Minister Margret Mwanakatwe was “carrying herself” as a Minister?

This was tantamount to questioning the power of the President to appoint Ministers. Of course, she was a Minister working under the instructions of the President. This disregard of the President is the same thing that the opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema has been exhibiting and saying. There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that President Edgar Lungu was and continues to be President of this country and no Judge and his colleagues can change this fact.

Robson Nyondo

 

 

Councillors deserve salaries

Editor,

Councillors are not appointed, they are elected by the people. These people have families and extended relatives. They also have needs like any other human being. It is their right to talk about their monthly allowances. Local Government Association and the ministry have failed to improve the conditions of  councillors. At last year’s AGM for Local Government Association, the issue was brought to their attention, and even the PS Amos Malupenga failed to explain the issue. If you need good work from the councillors, improve the allowance.

M Sekeleti

 

 

 

Councillors do not deserve salaries

Editor,

Zambia will be the first country where civic leaders will demand salaries. Elsewhere and indeed in Zambia, councillors have always served on voluntary basis because there is not enough work or indeed engagement to keep them involved through the entire month to deserve a salary.

KLN

 

 

ZAMBEEF driver wins kudos

Editor,

I would like to congratulate Zambeef driver who drives ABF 8113. The man truly has experience in driving. Only if the company can have 10 of such drivers, it can make a big difference.

R.N.S.

 

 

Buses moving at night

Editor,

Stopping buses moving at night won’t avoid accidents. To the contrary it will encourage bus drivers to be making unnecessary stoppages. It will also encourage drivers to sneak into nearby night clubs for booze and fun leaving passengers asleep and carry on with the journey the following morning while nursing heavy hang overs. Most of our drivers are too playful and incompetent.

GK

K/Mposhi

 

 

Amos Chanda cleared air on President’s  foreign trips

Editor,

Kindly allow me to thank presidential press Aide Mr. Amos Chanda for coming out so clearly on Sunday interview to inform the nation on the importance of the trips our beloved President Lungu makes abroad. Doubting Thomases have been shamed clean. How can any political leader celebrate calamity which befell the five provinces and attribute it to PF? No wonder, he lost. Come 2021 this leader will fall again badly. God help Zambia, God bless our President and continue to prevail on him to serve your people in a Christian manner.

P.C.I

Lusaka

 

 

Daily Nation should open offices

in all provinces

Editor,

Let me thank Daily Nation agent Victor Kalomo in Mongu for working hard. I, therefore, request Daily Nation to open offices in all the 10 provinces so that we can give you information and advertising through your office.

Concerned Customer

Mongu

 

Bring back Davis Chama to the position of SG

Editor,

My advice to the Patriotic Front is that Mr Davis Chama should be given the position of the secretary general. He guided the party very well. It is very painful for me to see the party beginning to crack because of careless talk and lack of quality leadership. You lose an election at constituency and you start targeting your colleagues who won.  Let’s put the party in safe hands. I hope the President will give an ear to this cry.  The Lord says faith comes through hearing. God bless President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and Mama bo Vice President Inonge Mutukwa Wina and all Patriotic Front members.

Diehard PF  learned Kapenya

 ‘Stand up for Zambia’ journalist jailed

FREELANCE journalist Chanda Chiimba 111 has been convicted and jailed to two years with hard labour and fined K1,000 on two other counts, in default by the Lusaka Magistrates Court.

Chiimba III was sent to prison by Ndola Magistrate Obster Musukwa after being found guilty of unlawful publication and printing of two tabloids, News of Our Times and Stand-up Zambia.

He was also convicted for the disposal of property suspected to be proceeds of crime.

In his mitigation, through his lawyer Charles Lisita, Chimba III asked the court to exercise maximum leniency on him on grounds that he was a first offender who is remorseful for his involvement in the scandal.

Chimba in his mitigation asked the court to take into consideration that he was a family man, married with five children two of which were in university and three in primary school and the youngest aged six.

He further told the court that he had added responsibilities of providing and caring for his old mother, adding that he was the family’s breadwinner.

Chimba told the court that he had a serious condition of prostate cancer which was in stage four, adding that he was scheduled to visit the Cancer Hospital two to three times a month.  But his medical condition could not save him from being sent to prison because he failed to show proof to court of his condition.

Magistrate Musukwa stated that in the absence of documentation to prove his condition there was nothing that the court could do but send the journalist to prison for two years with hard labour.

In the same matter, Magistrate Musukwa on Monday acquitted former Information and Broadcasting minister Ronnie Shikapwasha and his former permanent secretary Dr Sam Phiri on abuse of authority of office.

FISP a flop – Dora

 

By Nation Reporter

GOVERNMENT has declared the Farming Input Support Programme (FISP) a failed project because most farmers for whom it was intended turned the programme into a social cash transfer.

And Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya revealed that more than 7000 ghost farmers had been removed from the beneficiaries list which saw government pay a lot of money to non-existent farmers across the country.

Ms Siliya said while the FISP programme was meant to help vulnerable and small scale farmers graduate into commercial businesses which were eventually weaned off, the programme had been reduced to a social cash transfer project hence its failure to meet its original objectives.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Ms Siliya said most FISP beneficiaries had failed to graduate and be weaned and had continued to return to the government programme for inputs year after year.

“The FISP programme has become a failed project and government is seriously relooking at the programme. Last year, more than 7000 ghost farmers were removed from the FISP list which had seen government pay a lot of money to non-existent farmers. FISP was supposed to turn farmers into business venture so that the beneficiaries could graduate to commercial farmers and be weaned off the programme. But as it turns out, the beneficiaries have turned the programme into a social cash transfer to which people continue to return,” Ms Siliya said.

Ms Siliya said it did not make sense that government had continued to pump in money into the FISP programme and buying the maize from the farmers at a higher price so that the beneficiaries could make profit but that had not helped to make the farmers graduate.

She explained that government had also been paying the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) to manufacture fertilizer which was being given to farmers under the FISP programme yet the programme was not helping the beneficiaries to grow.

Ms Siliya said the agriculture FISP programme was not a social welfare programme but a business which was meant to have graduate.

“The FISP programme was supposed to help farmers with the potential to grow but as it turns out, it has stopped making any economic sense as shown by the fact that some farmers who are the beneficiaries are still failing to raise the K400 deposit fees to access inputs,” Ms Siliya said.

SDG goals not for Govt alone – minister

 

THE burden of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2063 should not be left to Government alone but should be a shared responsibility among all stakeholders, says Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Mwale. Mr Mwale said this yesterday in Lusaka during a multi-stakeholder dialogue on China’s engagement with Zambia, that opportunities existed for achieving the SDGs and Agenda 2063 by ensuring that there were close linkages in the spirit of partnership and multi-stakeholder participation from the private sector, civil society and development partners.

He noted that both the SDGs and the Agenda 2063 were both adopted in 2015, hence they had some similarities in terms of  goals and intended to achieve sustained and inclusive economic growth, poverty eradication and structural transformation of Africa’s economies. Therefore there was need to formulate and streamline them with line Government ministries. “The burden of implementing the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 should not be left to the Government alone but should be a shared responsibility. I hope this gathering will provide workable policy choices that could help Zambia and Africa on how best to achieve the SDGs and Agenda 2063,” he said.

Mr Mwale, who is Local Government minister, said that there should be follow-up consultations among the Ministry of National Planning, line Government ministries and departments to ensure deeper understanding of both agendas and their synergies which needed to take into account the three dimensions of social, economic and sustainable development. He said that there was need for increased awareness on how the SDGs and Agenda 2063 were related in order to ensure effective implementation of both programmes. Mr Mwale observed that both agendas were inspiring but posed a challenge in that Agenda 2063 had seven aspirations, 30 goals and 35 priority areas, 171 national targets 85, continental targets and 246 indicators while the SDGs comprised 17 goals, 169 targets and 230 indicators.

Speaking at the same event, Chinese ambassador to Zambia Yang Youming affirmed his country’s continued support to Zambia’s development and the continued warm bilateral relations, stating that this was evident in the mining and construction sectors of the economy. Mr Yang said that China had so far given Zambia over U$3 billion in various development projects and expressed confidence that the amount was likely to increase. The SDG number one goal as enshrined in the United Nations charter aims to fight poverty at all levels as well as in all its forms.

BoZ takes over Intermarket Bank

THE Bank of Zambia (BOZ) has with immediate effect taken possession of Intermarket Banking Corporation Zambia Limited because it is insolvent. The Central Bank has revealed that the bank was no longer able to meet its institutional obligations, head of communications Kanguya Mayondi has announced. Mr Mayondi explained that BOZ under Section 81 of the Banking and Financial Services Act had authority to take possession of any financial service provider where its operations were in breach of the Zambian law. He said that the banking regulator could take possession of a financial institution for any reason if it was unable or likely to become unable to continue with its operations. Mr Mayondi warned that a financial service provider could be taken over if its capital was less than the prescribed minimum and that it was deemed insolvent. He disclosed that BOZ had with immediate effect taken possession of the Intermarket Banking Corporation because it was insolvent and not able to meet its obligations. “BOZ has determined that the Intermarket Banking Corporation Zambia Limited is insolvent and not able to meet its obligations as they fall due. BOZ under section 81 of the BFSA can take possession of a financial service provider where in its operations it is in breach of the Zambian law or for any reason if it’s unable or likely to become unable to continue its operations and less than prescribed capital,” he said. Mr Mayondi assured the nation that the decision to take over the bank was intended to safeguard the interests of depositors and preserve the integrity of the financial system. He advised depositors, creditors and other interested parties to forward their queries to BOZ and that during this period, BOZ shall cause to be prepared a statement of affairs and take any other action it deemed fit.

Matero girls gifted K16,000 of sanitary towels

AIRTEL Zambia has donated sanitary towels worth K16, 000 to Matero Girls Secondary School in Lusaka as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR). The human resource director for Airtel Zambia Barbra Chikonde said during the handover ceremony that the telecommunications company was committed to giving back to the community. Ms Chikonde disclosed that Airtel had the plight of the girl child at heart and that they it wanted them to grow into responsible citizens. The Airtel divas also shared some life experiences with the pupils who seemed to admire the Airtel employees as they disclosed about their personal journeys in life. Sandra Malupande, legal counsel at Airtel, advised the girls to study hard and that they should not give up in life no matter how many times they failed. Ms Malupande inspired the pupils by explaining how she did not give up even after failing in her first year at the Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (ZIALE). She narrated how she soldiered on and used to sleep for only two hours studying in order for her to be admitted to the bar as a practising lawyer. Tisa Kombe, also an employee at Airtel, advised the pupils to be innovative and that they should plan their careers ahead. Ms Kombe urged the pupils to decide on what they wanted to be in life and to start researching on the things that were involved for them to make it in that field. “I only decided on what I wanted to be in life when I was in Grade 11, all this time I was just blank. You should start planning for you future now; choose what you want to be in life now and start planning how you want to get there,” she said. Matero Girls Secondary School guidance teacher Dorothy Makumba thanked the Airtel team for the donation and for sharing their experiences with the girls. Ms Makumba said that the pupils had leant a lot from the shared experiences and that they were motivated to work extra hard. She urged Airtel to continue with the good works and that they should extend the gesture to other schools that were in need of their motivation.