HOME Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo has urged newly-appointed Constitutional Court judges should never again allow anyone to “insult and undress” them without getting punished.
Kampyongo said this during his debate on adopting the report on the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed to scrutinise the Presidential appointment of Madam Justice Fulgency Mwenya Chisanga to serve as a judge of the Supreme Court; Madam Justice Judy Zulu Mulongoti; Mr Justice Mwila Chitabo, SC and Mr Justice Mathew Kasonde Chisunka to serve as judges of the Constitutional Court and Madam Justice Anessie Michael Banda-Bobo; Madam Justice Nicola Ann Sharpe-Phiri and Mr Kelvin Muzenga to serve as judges of the Court of Appeal.
Kampyongo said ConCourt judges should not let anyone call them unsuitable for those positions without punishment.
He also advised the newly-appointed ConCourt judges to expect possible election disputes following the general election.
“My advice to those who are going to the Constitutional Court, and I know that Honourable Mwila Chitabo, SC, is among those, who is equally a gallant son of this country, experienced, resolute and of strong character. You are going to the Constitutional Court in this very interesting year when we shall have the general elections. Some disputes might end up in the Constitutional Court. Yes, elections come with a lot of political pressure. We would like you to stand firm and ensure that you adjudicate on our matters fairly without fear or favour. You should never allow, again, a situation where politicians should come and dance in your court chambers and undress you, call you names that are not suitable and get away without punishment,” urged Kampyongo.
“You should make sure that those that appear before you appear as law-abiding citizens. Elections are determined by the people of Zambia and disputes must be settled amicably. So, we are expecting you to be firm and decisive when you are making pronouncements on the matters that are brought before you. We wouldn’t want to see what happened in the past where some citizens thought that because of their status, they could come and call you all sorts of names. Mr Speaker, with these few remarks I wish these eminent persons all the very best as they serve the nation and they are fellow citizens.”
Meanwhile, Government Deputy Chief Whip Tutwa Ngulube said the promotion of judges had created an increase of backlog of cases in the lower courts in some cases, which needed to be addressed.
“Mr Speaker, allow me to address a few concerns that have come to my mind by virtue of my experience as a practicing lawyer. Mr Speaker, I have noticed that almost all these judges are going on promotion, which is a very good thing that we have seen in the Judiciary under the leadership of His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu, because he wants to promote people based on merit. But we normally see that once judges are promoted, either from the High Court to Court of Appeal, then they stop whatever they were doing in the High Court; they abandon justice and as a result, those judges who have rulings to render, judgements to deliver will forget about everything. We have seen some judges that are appointed and are promoted, two, three years ago having not delivered judgements in the High Court, in the Court of Appeal. So, we would like to urge these judges and those magistrates that were promoted yesterday to ensure that they clear their tables. Mr Speaker, justice is about decision-making, and if we have judges who can abandon their work just because they have been promoted and they are sitting on a higher bench, then we are losing it. And I think the motivation to promote people would be lost,” said Ngulube.
“Mr Speaker, I am also aware that most of the time when we have promotions of this nature, we must give those judges some time to clear their backlog because the Judiciary has a huge backlog most of it either to the other station or because judges were promoted or because judges were moved. So, speaking on behalf of other lawyers, we hope and trust that this group of judges that are being promoted today will do the right thing by ensuring that if they have work to be done in their respective High Court or Court of Appeals, they must clear their tables and ensure that when they take up their up their new roles, we don’t have a burden of knocking on their doors every day to find out when they are coming back to give us our rulings. The issue of backlog has become a thorn in the flesh.”