17 November 2012

Zambia: State Wants to Realign Judiciary

JUSTICE Minister Wynter Kabimba says Government is seeking to realign the Judiciary and come up with a system that will rekindle people's confidence through enhanced justice delivery.

Presenting a ministerial statement on estimates of revenue and expenditure for the Judiciary in Parliament on Thursday evening, Mr Kabimba said the Government would take justice closer and make it more accessible to people than ever before.

"It is the desire of the PF Government to see to it that the confidence of our people in our justice system is restored and that the delivery of justice to the people is efficient than ever before," Mr Kabimba said.

He said judicial reforms would be a priority in 2013 and that such reforms would be people-driven to make the Judiciary an effective instrument of social change and economic development.

He said K40 billion had been reserved from the Judiciary's K272 billion allocation in the 2013 Budget for construction of High Court buildings in Northern and Eastern provinces.

Mr Kabimba told the House that construction of 27 local courts in 10 provinces at a cost of K40 billion from the 2012 Judiciary budgetary allocation had been completed.

The provinces are Central with 11 local courts, Eastern 12, Western 10, Luapula 10, Copperbelt nine, Lusaka eight, North-Western 10, Northern eight and Southern 11.

Mr Kabimba said the Government, in line with its manifesto, would continue to prioritise the construction of court infrastructure in the Judiciary's 2013 national budget allocation.

"In addition, subordinate courts will be constructed at Chirundu and Chama and progressively in all district headquarters in the country. The construction is estimated to be completed in 2014," he said.

Mr Kabimba said in its continued effort to improve justice delivery, the Government would introduce the clerking system by recruiting researchers to ensure quick delivery of judgments.

"The Judiciary, with technical and financial assistance from the Investment Climate Facility for Africa, embarked on a project to computerise court operations.

"The project is intended to improve case management and allow electronic filing of court documents which will further decongest the courts," he said.

He said the Judiciary would also embark on providing electronic filing library and payment services to enable litigants to file documents in court and make payments electronically.

UPND Kalomo MP, Request Muntanga urged Mr Kabimba to undertake a tour of all court infrastructure in the country and ensure rehabilitation of those in a deplorable state.

Mr Muntanga said Mr Kabimba should address perceived corrupt practices in which some judges were allegedly involved.

MMD Nalikwanda MP, Geoffrey Lungwangwa said the Judiciary should be respected and that Government should ensure there was no political interference in its operations.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister, Given Lubinda said his ministry would continue to maintain and expand its presence in the international community based on the advancement of Zambia's national interests.

Mr Lubinda said this on Thursday evening in a ministerial statement on the estimates and expenditure for the ministry's 2013 budgetary allocation of K325.5 billion.

The minister said the decision to open missions would be premised on ensuring that the country gained maximum benefits from its interactions.

He said the Government had reopened the embassy in Saudi Arabia, would open a new mission in South Korea while Burundi recently opened an embassy in Lusaka and Australia had created an honorary consulate.

In its 2013 Budget allocation, Mr Lubinda said, there were reductions in allocations to utilities in 32 of 37 cost centres from K2.7 billion to K2.4 billion, representing a reduction of 10 per cent.

He said his ministry had also increased the number of inspections on procurements in order to maintain close and regular scrutiny on the procedure and actual expenditure of public resources.

The two budgets for Judiciary and Ministry of Foreign Affairs were still being debated by the parliamentarians in the House.

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