SOCIALIST Party president Dr Fred M’membe says UPND cadres’ behaviour of holding a press briefing at the court premises to call for changes in the judiciary amounts to unacceptable harassment of judges and magistrates.

Several UPND supporters, led by their Lusaka Province youth chairperson Anderson Banda, on Friday stormed the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court, calling for a complete overhaul of the Judiciary.

Some of the UPND cadres were heard planing to confront Kabushi PF member of parliament Bowman Lusambo, who was appearing for his ongoing case, but fortunately, police managed to shield him from any confrontation.

Addressing the media at the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court premises, Friday, Banda said the youths could no longer tolerate individuals like Lusambo and Raphael Nakacinda who continued to disrespect President Hakainde Hichilema.

“To start with, we are citizens of Zambia. Secondly, we are the supporters of our beloved President Hakainde Hichilema. Thirdly, we are within the law to come and give solidarity to the President when there is a matter involving him. So there was a matter of defamation of the President because Nakacinda defamed our President. They have continued abusing the freedom of expression and that is not settling well. The President deserves respect and dignity that he is supposed to be given as head of state,” said Banda.

“So we will not allow surrogates like Nakacinda, Bowman Lusambo, Tayali and others to continue demeaning and undermining the head of state. We are here to protect the President and the respect supposed to be given to him. As the Provincial youth chairman for Lusaka province, we are getting very worried. Instead of wasting my time I would simply call for the complete overhaul of the Judiciary. The Judiciary is seemingly letting us down. So we are very alert as youths.”

But in a statement, Dr M’membe said the UPND cadres’ behaviour amounted to unacceptable harassment of judges and magistrates.

“The UPND cadres’ holding of a press briefing at the courts’ premises to call for changes in the judiciary amounts to unacceptable intimidation, harassment of judges and magistrates. This barbarism undermines the independence of our judges and magistrates and the rule of law in general. Do they want our judges and magistrates to behave like Pontius Pilate who abdicated his responsibility, washed his hands and allowed Christ to be crucified, nailed to the cross? Do they want to see legitimate, fair trials with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty of crime suspects or crucifixions? This is gross intimidation, threatening or blackmail of judges and magistrates which seriously undermines their independence,” said Dr M’membe.

“With this act, the UPND has seriously undermined their fight against corruption. Let our judges and magistrates decide cases in an impartial manner. The way to achieve this impartiality – to allow judges to decide cases based on what the law actually requires, and on nothing else is to ensure that judges and magistrates are independent, or, put differently, not subject to reprisals for decisions they make on the bench. If judges misconduct themselves, there is the Judicial Complaints Commission to deal with that and make your complaints there, don’t resort to anarchy.”

Meanwhile, PF information and publicity secretary Raphael Nakacinda said the level of lawlessness exhibited by UPND cadres was unacceptable.

“What we experienced this morning is highly unfortunate. We are now clearly more or less in a banana republic in view of what happened at the Subordinate court. The so-called rule of law is being abrogated with impunity in relation to the conduct of UPND cadres. Today, Mr William Banda, I want to believe my young brother Gilbert Liswaniso did organise UPND thugs. We cannot even classify them as cadres, to come to the courts purely for the purposes of wanting to lynch those of us appearing before the court. They are the ones who went to complain to the police, obviously we were arrested and are appearing before court in order for the due process of the law to be undertaken. What is happening now is evident from the initial attempt to get us lynched in North Western Province. If the Judiciary does not rise to the occasion to save this country from this wanton and determined effort to destroy the justice system, we will live to regret for many years to come,” said Nakacinda.

“We have a Minister of Justice who is ranting each and every day. I want to warn my brother Haimbe, you will end up being the worst Justice Minister that the country has had. Your appetite to speak to the media and try to look intelligent, you are now undermining the arm of government. Today without sensitivity, he announced that he has dissolved the NPA Board. What was laughable is that their tenure of office ended way some time back. He talked about cases in court. This appetite of wanting to be contemptuous by those in government is really worrying. We now have cadres coming to court to intimidate us and now they are calling for the total overhaul of the Judiciary. Which institution is going to be spared from the paranoia of the UPND? Today we were threatened that they are going to throw a filling station at our houses. The meaning is that they are going to throw petrol bombs in our homes. We have reported to the police about the attempts of some known UPND cadres but up to today, we have not seen any action. If we let our guard down, this country will be destroyed and to rebuild it, it will be very difficult.”