THE Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) says Constitutional Court judges are human beings capable of making mistakes and, therefore, criticizing them is not a crime.
In a statement, Tuesday, CCZ General Secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya said in fact, Zambia needed more lawyers like John Sangwa State Counsel.
“As Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), we would like to express disappointment with and to condemn in the strongest terms the action by the Judiciary to suspend lawyer Mr. John Sangwa SC from representing his clients in the Zambian Courts of Law without according him the opportunity to be heard on any allegation of alleged misconduct. We find this action by the Judiciary as a ploy to instil fear and intimidation in brave lawyers and other ordinary citizens capable of standing their ground in defending the Constitution of Zambia. Mr. Sangwa has committed no crime to warrant his suspension from appearing in Zambian Courts. Mr. Sangwa’s choice to disagree with the Constitutional Court Judges on President Lungu’s eligibility to stand for elections next year is his democratic and constitutional right to defend the Constitution. The Constitution must be adhered to and respected by every citizen, including the President and the Constitutional Court Judges,” Chikoya stated.
“Constitutional Court judges are human beings like any other who are capable of making mistakes like any human being and if Mr Sangwa feels there was an error on the part of the Constitutional Court judges, his opinion must be respected without any intimidation. If anything, our prayer as the Church is to have a Zambian Judiciary with more lawyers of Mr John Sangwa SC’s calibre.”
Chikoya stated that instead of victimizing Sangwa, the Judiciary should celebrate him.
“The Judiciary needs brave and fearless men and women who can do anything to interpret the law in black and white in the manner Mr Sangwa does. Instead of victimizing him, the Judiciary should celebrate Mr. Sangwa for defending its integrity by standing up to interpret the law as it is. This behaviour by State institutions to intimidate individuals who choose to be on the side of justice and rule of law must come to an end. Zambia is a democracy where all democratic tenets must be respected by all citizens, including State actors and office bearers,” stated Chikoya.
“Criticism of court judgments is not unusual. It is part of an alert citizen’s job to analyse, and where necessary, to criticise the reasoning employed in court judgments. This is how courts of law must be held accountable for their decisions. In countries where democracy is highly respected, such criticism cannot amount to professional misconduct or contempt of court.
We therefore call for the lifting of Mr John Sangwa’s suspension with immediate effect and allow the celebrated lawyer exercise his rights without any further intimidation. ”