No one, ordinarily, buys legal services to be assisted to go to jail, fast, whatever the challenges one may have with the law, including having committed mass murder. The injunction of “guilty until proven innocent” is an important legal fiction in the capitalist legal apparatus to prevent “the innocent” from being punished without trial, and before being confirmed guilty, presumably by “a competent court of law”. It is a powerful refuge for rich criminals too!

In truth, the law is never broken in a court of law when a verdict of guilty is pronounced: the law is broken, simply, when it is broken: whenever an illegal act is committed! A reasonably fair, objective and efficient justice system simply confirms what happened – whether a law was broken or not. The courts are not, in theory, supposed to create a crime, or construct innocence; they assess and evaluate facts and the law to confirm what legally happened, they do not create the event! This is how it would be, if the law and its application were strictly objective, scientifically applied, free from money, and in an equal society.

A poor unemployed man steals five goats from a rich commercial farmer all worthy no more than a few thousand kwacha, is arrested, swiftly tried and jailed, say, for two years, to “send a strong warning to all those tempted to commit stock theft” that the law will deal with them. Stable theft fee agriculture, the good judge wisely says, is important for our national food security.

A reasonably rich politician in office corruptly acquires shall we say K300 million by paying off a government employee in the department of health to pass false tender documents as valid, for the supply of medical goods valued at K600 million but actually supplies goods worth only K300 million and pockets K300 million, a tiny fraction of which he shares with the government officials to certify the documents. Upon being queried and investigated by our ACC, he accepts to pay K500,000 (half a million) in exchange for immunity, and claims the rest of the money has actually been lost in other commercial activities and this is all he has. He is let free. Poor people die because there are no vital medicines in hospitals, because the rich politician corruptly undersupplied medicines meant for government hospitals.

A rich old man is accused of sexually harassing and assaulting a female employee. After many delays and many years, the courts rule that there was not enough compelling evidence to prove both charges, and the man is let go, he is free. Meanwhile, it took months of suffering sexual harassment at the hands of the rich man, and many hours of overcoming the possible terror of public humiliation by the police, prosecutors, lawyers, judges, the media and mobs of supporters of the rich man, before the young women plucked up enough courage to report the matter to the police and during trial. As the woman correctly feared, the delays, meanderings and postponements the brilliant expensive lawyers the rich man hired ultimately result in his acquittal.

Pay a visit to any prison or remand cells and you will be pleasantly met by the hordes of poor people filling up all available spaces in these places of incarceration of offenders and suspects. You will be hard placed to find a rich person you can easily recognise. The rich you see, buy “justice”, and the poor have justice meted out to them, in good measure!

The fiction of “equality before the law” in a system where legal services are privatised and are for profit means that “justice” is a commodity, it is for buying and selling: if you cannot buy it, you are treated differently by the system from those who can buy it. And so, the rich have justice and the poor cannot buy it. “Free” government legal aid is a scandal.

Things become even worse when hunger, poverty, unemployment, inequalities and the inevitable corruption and national moral decay take root in any country: the justice system becomes in fact the most concentrated site of corruption and offers the most vivid display of national moral decay. Lawyers and judges, a good number of them, become powerful enablers of corruption and fountains of national moral decay, as they amass political power and profit from corruption, immensely.

Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s ascendancy to power, to the presidency of the Republic of Zambia must also be viewed from this perspective: he was the perfect product of the unholy marriage between lawyers, breakdown of general national morality and a moribund Zambian neo-colonial capitalism and economy that thrust more than 70 percent of Zambians into a state of hopeless permeant hunger, exquisite poverty and grotesque inequalities fuelled by chronic systemic and structural mass unemployment.

Edgar Chagwa Lungu had a cast of lawyers who faithfully served him and enabled his near destruction of this country, not just by the impossible to repay debt the government incurred in a short time, but by the loose approval of, and inability to reign in corruption, both in government and in all walks of life in Zambia. Lungu is a University of Zambia law graduate. He has practiced law. There is a whiff of perfectly believable rumours of his having fleeced a client of his, when he used to practice law.

In the 2016 elections, it is a perfectly reasonable belief to assert that Lungu personally illegally installed himself as president of Zambia, while his election was being contested in the courts. Judges and lawyers aided and abetted this crime, by one-time lawyer, Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

Current Zambian Chief Justice, Mumba Malila, speaking at the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) Conference recently correctly raised the positive relationship between national social, economic and political well-being, and a good corruption free legal community and justice system. He lamented how some lawyers have succumbed to corruption and some even defend it. He wants our lawyers to fight corruption.

Can capitalism, morality and justice mix, happily, In a capitalist system? I don’t think so. In the US for example, the so called “Leader of the Free World”, money rules: poor black people, especially African Americans, disproportionately over populate US prisons even as they are a minority, in the entire population. Leadership of the judiciary is determined by politicians and political institutions to safeguard the extreme privatisation and for profit white racist social, economic and cultural system that the US is.
As long as lawyers are for hire like any other privatised services in a capitalist system, justice is a commodity, it is for buying and selling, it is not about morals; about what is right or wrong, it is what is decided in a court which is dependent on the quality of lawyers an individual can buy, which matters. This is capitalism: it is the equality and morality of money which rules. Capitalism is the system of buying and selling everything, and those with more money are superior and able to buy more of everything, including lawyers, judges and courts and politicians.

Chief Justice Mumba discussed the important matter of our corruption and poverty, but failed to critique the capitalist system which actually thrives on corruption and immorality, why? This is a glaring omission in his remarks at the LAZ event. Merely siting the fact that lawyers must deal with both the commercial and moral aspects of the law and its application is not enough. Mumba needed to evaluate the kind of capitalism Zambia is made of, to help us all make sense of the corruption especially among lawyers, in Zambia.

Capitalism is a system of making money, by profiting from everything. In our extreme state of impoverishment, the system of capitalism produces its own unique lawyer capable of surviving in our unique immoral and corrupt conditions. Further, the rot in the legal system is not unique to lawyers and judges only. Honest university academics, engineers, accountants, surveyors, doctors and so on will easily testify that their professions are also equally polluted by corruption and immorality.

To uproot these evils requires examining our underlying uniquecapitalist system and how it is connected to the rest of the world, and the poverty it creates which facilitates the existence of the kind of professionals we have. Can the Chief justice apply his mind to this matter?

(Send comments to: munalulaagnesmusonda2016@gmail.com)