JUSTICE Minister Mulambo Haimbe says government’s position on Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa’s proposal to advertise the Chief Justice position was from an informed point of view.
Recently, Haimbe said advertising the position of the Chief justice had no constitutional backing and that there was need of an amendment to facilitate for that in response to a suggestion from constitutional lawyer John Sangwa.
But Constitutional and International Human Rights Lawyer Professor Cephas Lumina argued that there was no need for a constitution amendment to advertise the Chief Justice position as the existing legal framework was sufficient, adding that Haimbe spoke from an uninformed position.
Reacting to Prof Lumina’s remarks, however, Haimbe insisted that the current legal framework did not provide for the advertisement of judicial vacancies.
Haimbe said Prof Lumina was not speaking from the perspective of mutual respect.
“Obviously, he didn’t listen fully to what I said, because I said that the proposal as it currently reads, as it was put forward by State Counsel, could not be achieved under the legal framework. I didn’t specify the constitution only. Given that the Professor opted to end his interview by saying that I didn’t read and I misunderstood the law, I think quite clearly, we are not speaking from the perspective of mutual respect. He is entitled to his views, that is all I can say,” Haimbe said.
When asked whether government had plans to engage with other stakeholders on the matter, Haimbe said there was nothing to solve because government made a position from an informed point of view.
“There is nothing to solve, when we make statements, we make them from an informed point of view. There are a number of issues to be considered when one talks about such a meteoric leap in changing processes. If you read what Professor says himself, he actually concedes that there is need for certain frameworks to be put in place for such operations to take place,” said Haimbe.
“Anyone who knows from the practical side anything about law making will tell you that there are a number of things that need to be done. In any event, we responded to Mr Sangwa who is the proponent of this particular issue. If he feels comfortable you can speak with him and he will reveal the contents of our response and his reaction to it.”
Prof Lumina had argued that the existing legal framework was sufficient and it was unacceptable for a minister of justice not to understand this.
“I don’t know where the Minister gets that, his views are simply incorrect, he’s not well informed. In fact, it is unacceptable for a Minister of Justice not to understand such a simple issue. There is absolutely no need for the constitution to be amended to provide for the interviewing of candidates for appointment of judges. The existing legal framework is sufficient to allow the Judicial Service Commission to put in place a procedure that provides for a transparent and open selection process that includes advertising Judicial vacancies. The framework in question, I think the starting point is article 173 paragraph one of the Constitution. That one makes it very clear that the values and principles of the public service include merit as the basis of appointment and promotion. These values apply to all state institutions including the Judicial Service Commission and our commission,” said Prof Lumina.
“Now to be specific with regards the issue we are talking about here, the pertinent sections are sections three, four and 41 of the Civic Commission Act No 10 of 2016. If we go through each of these provisions that I spoke about, section three expands on the values and principles of the public service as capped in Article 3 (1) of the constitution. I want to emphasize two things, in section three of the Service Commission Act, this builds on what is set out in Article 173 (1) of the constitution. Remember the constitution just provides the overall framework and then specifically legislation expands on what is in the constitution. Fair competition, merit must be the basis of appointments and promotions in the public service.”