21 May 2012

Zambia: Chief Justice Must Go - JAWUZ

THE Judicial and Allied Workers of Zambia (JAWUZ) has called for the immediate resignation of the Chief Justice Ernest Sakala.

JAWUZ joins several other individuals and institutions that are calling for the Chief Justice to step down as part of the reforms of the judiciary.

JAWUZ president Peter Mwale said in Lusaka yesterday that the union and all the workers under the judiciary wanted to work for judges who would be well regarded by society and that all Zambians should be accountable.

"The truth is we can't be respected as an institution if we are refusing to be scrutinised. Let's not behave like secret society by resisting checks and balances," Mr Mwale said at a Press briefing at the Ridgeway Southern Sun Hotel.

He said the judiciary was confronted with numerous misconduct and corruption allegations and JAWUZ strongly believed judicial reforms and resignation of Mr Justice Sakala were unavoidable at this point of history.

He said Mr Justice Sakala had played his part and JAWUZ believed it was time for him to take a back stage and allow comprehensive reforms in the judiciary.

Flanked by several union executives, he wondered why the judiciary should be left out when all politicians who were elected officers could submit to accountability and transparency.

He said, "we desire a judiciary that is not dented or justifiably perceived negatively by the general populace. And we feel this can only be made possible if the Chief Justice Ernest Sakala stepped down."

Mr Mwale said judicial reforms were a must and the nation could only have meaningful reforms with a new face as head of the bench (judiciary).

He said it was a not in denial that the judiciary was now 'finished' in so far as public perception was concerned and the public thought lowly of it together with its staff.

"The fact of the matter is that, the public views the judiciary as a high-handed or autocratic corrupt institution whose object is self-preservation," he said.

He said no employee could save such an institution with commitment and vitality in its current status.

He said judicial workers were now demotivated because of such negative perceptions that had arisen as a result of numerous allegations of continued corruption within the institution.

The JAWUZ leader however, advised the judges not to be misled by some 'characters' who presided over similar situations in the past.

He said some 'so-called senior lawyers' were seen frequenting the corridors and judges' chambers pretending to be defenders of the judiciary when they were not genuine but on self serving missions.

"They represent no one but their ego, so be warned," Mr Mwale said.

He said something in the judiciary was unhinged and the Zambian people could vividly see it in the frantic propaganda claims by certain individuals and hired elements.

He said since the judiciary was now a topical issue, the workers were ready to talk about it in a candid and progressive way as there was no better person to provide a truthful outlook than the workers.

He said the prevailing circumstances demanded that the nation was addressed on the significant issue which could be intervened through comprehensible judicial reforms.

He said it was indisputable that the judiciary had to be clear on the leveled allegations and the workers needed help through the excursive arm of the Government by coming up with judicial reforms.

Chongwe Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Masebo was among other personalities who were recently quoted calling for immediate resignation of Mr Justice Sakala.

But Conservative Enhancement Party Mumba Kalifungwa said Justice Sakala should not resign so that his knowledge of the judicial system could be useful in the proposed reforms.

Meanwhile, Registrar and Director of Court Operations Egispo Mwansa said on Friday that there could never be any meaningful development in Zambia if workers' rights were not prioritised.

Mr Mwansa said for this reason, the judiciary would always strive to put workers rights first.

He was speaking at the 2012 Labour Day award presentation ceremony for judicial workers at the Supreme Court.

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