JUSTICE Ministry Permanent Secretary, Patricia Jere has attributed the limited number of magistrates in Zambia to the reluctance by lawyers to join the judiciary because of the huge work load and lack of incentives.
Ms Jere, who appeared before the parliamentary committee on Government Assurances, yesterday said lawyers shunned to work as magistrates in preference to private practice which was more lucrative.
She said vacancies had not been filled because there were no magistrates on the market, stating that all the courts that had been constructed did not have magistrates to preside over.
Ms Jere said training of lay magistrates, who were mostly sent in remote areas was only done as and when funds were available for that purpose.
"The last time lay magistrates were trained was in 2007," Ms Jere said.
Acting Registrar of the High Court Chibombo Phiri told the committee chaired by Chikankata Member of Parliament, Munji Habeenzu that the current conditions of service for magistrates were not bad but that they did not meet the expectations of the lawyers resulting in them opting to work in private practice.
She said the Judiciary did not have the capacity to negotiate for better perks for magistrates because it fell under the public service union.