In this audio, Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima says she has noted numerous attacks on judges who are unfortunately not allowed to respond but to speak through their judgments.

Chief Justice Mambilima was responding to questions from journalists who asked her to comment on attacks on the judiciary following UPND leader Hakinde Hichilema’s incarceration.

Chief Justice Mambilima said judges can only speak through their judgments.

“The Judiciary is not compromised; nobody tells us what to do or how to decide cases. Cases are decided according to the law. We have seen the attacks but unfortunately we are not at liberty to respond because that’s a convention, we don’t respond to those kinds of attacks we only speak through our judgments,” Chief Justice Mambilima said.

She said every judge was independent and no one could influence their decisions.

“The concept of the independence of the Judiciary is extremely important. This entails that the one deciding a case, any Judge whether it be a Magistrate or local justice, at a time they are deciding a matter, they are independent from anyone; not even the boss, not even friends not even myself can talk to a magistrate and tell them to decide a matter in a certain way,” she said.

Chief Justice Mambilima said even she could not interfere in any case.

“The system is such that if you are not happy with any determination, you appeal. But what we see is that if someone is not happy, they start attacking the Judiciary. There are checks and balances which people must take advantage of, I have heard a lot some people even say the Chief Justice is just quiet, I have no mandate to interfere in any case, any Judge must be independent to decide the case according to their oath of office and according to the law,” she said.

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And Chief Justice Mambilima said she did not appoint a tribunal to probe Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya on the Malawi Maize scandal because the allegations lacked merit.

“I do not just appoint a tribunal when i get a complaint. There must be a basis for appointing a tribunal. I get so many of those letters and if I appointed a tribunal, we would have a tribunal every morning. I have to weigh the allegations, I have to be advised on the weight of those allegations, if I find there is no merit, I can not appoint a tribunal,” she said.

Meanwhile, Justice Mambilima launched the Court Reporters Association of Zambia (CRAZ) saying the association would improve the performance of Court reporters in the country.

“The establishment of the Court Reporters Association of Zambia will enable trained court Reporters to be accredited to the National Court Reporters Association based in the United States of America (USA) which is also the mother body of all court reporting associations in the world. This affiliation will provide our court reporters with opportunities for capacity building. Therefore, this establishment is a big milestone in enhancing the performance of court reporters,” said Justice Mambilima.

And CRAZ president Kambole Ng’andu said the associaiton would also provide Zambian court reporters an opportunity for capacity building.

“The association which we are launching today will also facilitate for accuracy in the way court stories are done as Zambia does not yet have an institution which trains court reporters. So this association will start training another group of court reporters immediately the one which is about to complete, graduates this July and reporters to be trained as court Reporters will include scholars of Mass Communication, Journalism and Social Science among other programmes,” said Ng’andu.

Chief Justice Ireen Mambilima speaks to journalists – picture by Tenson Mkhala