I do not know how anyone with average intelligence can interpret what President Edgar Lungu said as meaning anything other than threats and intimidation against the Judiciary,” says Cornell University Law Professor Muna Ndulo.
And Prof Ndulo says President Lungu’s remarks were not only ill-conceived and ignorant but simplistic because they showed that the Head of State lacked the understanding of jurisprudence in the Kenyan Supreme Court decision that nullified the presidential election results.
In a statement, Prof Ndulo said President Lungu’s surrogates needed to be ignored because they were oblivious to the grievous harm being done to democracy in Zambia.
“I do not know how anyone with average intelligence can interpret what President Lungu said as meaning anything other than threats and intimidation against the Judiciary. One would have thought that it is better to admit wrongdoing or keep quite than to talk and so reveal your mediocrity and grossly shallow understanding of the issues at hand,” Prof Ndulo stated.
“As for the Presidents surrogates who immediately went into top gear to attack in the most degenerate manner anybody who criticised Lungu over his remarks, it is best to ignore them. They should learn the lessons of history; because it is not unusual for those who fete the tiger to become the tiger’s ultimate feast. These supporters are too blinded by the allure of primordial prejudices to see the grievous harm being done to democracy in Zambia today. Nothing else can explain the cant and cascading absurdities being mobilised by these hirelings in support of Lungu’s attack on the Judiciary.”
Prof Ndulo said President Lungu’s “contemptuous threatening” remarks against the judiciary were a textbook exemplar of dictatorships.
“I write to support the position of Elias Chipimo and the Law Association of Zambia in their condemnation of President Lungu’s irresponsible attacks on the judiciary. This attack, I dare say, is yet another frontier in the creeping dictatorship and arrogance of power by the President in Zambia. The attack on the judiciary is irresponsible and for a lawyer, it is inconceivable to do so. Hence, it is my view that this is a deliberate attempt to further undermine the essential foundations of the rule of law and justice in Zambia. It is particularly puzzling and indeed puerile that a lawyer could equate party regulations for standing for party presidency with constitutional provisions that govern the presidency. The first is governed by a party document and the other by the grundnorm of the state – the Constitution. It is rather elementary even for those with basic knowledge of civics that “The principle of the separation of powers is the bedrock upon which the requirement of judicial independence and impartiality are founded,” Prof Ndulo said.
“The Judiciary is not a junior partner in the machinery of state because it has full plenitude of powers under the constitution and other statutes to carry out its duties in a democratic society. Its powers are imprescriptible to the extent that they are prescribed by constitutional provisions. Nothing, even the widest discretionary executive powers can whittle down this independence of the judiciary. It is therefore, sufficiently an erosion of the judicial foundations of democracy for the President to dishonor and make contemptuous threatening remarks about the judiciary. It is the textbook exemplar of dictatorships – first of all kill all the lawyers, second jail all the opposing voices, declare emergencies and in all these co-opt the judiciary or send the judges to Auschwitz.”
He wondered if President Lungu understood the jurisprudence of the Kenyan court decision.
“His remarks are not only ill-conceived and ignorant but simplistic because they focus on the result and do not seek to understand the jurisprudence of the Kenyan decision and do not enlighten us as to what in his view is wrong legally with the Kenya Supreme Court decision. Additionally, his understanding of Kenya’s history is at best selective for it is the same Kenyan Supreme Court, and the same Kenyan judges, that decided for [Uhuru] Kenyatta in the 2013 election petition,” Prof Ndulo said.
He encouraged the judges in Zambia to remain resolute.
“Judges will never win the respect and trust of citizens if they are subject to corrupt influences. Whenever a judge makes a decision for personal gain, or to carry favor, or to avoid censure, that judge and that act denigrates the rule of law. Further judicial accountability advances judicial competence,” said Prof Ndulo.