16 May 2017

Zambia: Chief Justice Warns Sticky-Fingered Clerks

CHIEF Justice Irene Mambilima has warned local court clerks in Zambia against corruption and theft of money paid by people filing cases in the country's lowest court.

Ms Justice Mambilima said the court officials should ensure that they adhered to proper accounting procedures as they collected fees and fines from members of the public.

Speaking when she opened a five-day provincial workshop for court clerks in Kabwe yesterday, Ms Justice Mambilima said there were a few individuals that had let down the Judiciary.

"Their work is characterised by laziness, practices such as corruption, misappropriation of funds, dishonesty and poor attitude towards members of the public - mistreating, pretending to be adjudicators, thus complaints from majority of Zambians," she said.

Ms Justice Mambilima reminded the participants that they were a critical interface between the courts and the litigating public because they were the first contact persons for those wanting to file their documents in court.

She also called on the court clerks to maintain high levels of confidentiality and exercise patience, courteousness and respect for the members of the public in the execution of their duties.

"Invariably, this responsibility requires you to keep in strictest confidence information you acquire in the course of your duty. You must not use the information for personal gain or as a means for obtaining bribes," she said.

The workshop, which ends on Friday, is the second after the one held in Lusaka with the aim of training the court clerks in all the country's 10 provinces in financial regulations and government accounting procedures.

Head of training Judge Elizabeth Muyovwe said the training programme had been necessitated by the revelation of poor financial accountability in local courts by the Auditor General's Report.

Ms Justice Muyovwe said the training would be rolled out to the 10 provinces and had been tailored to suit the needs of the local court clerks.

She said the training had been designed specifically to address various challenges of financial accountability brought out by the Auditor General's Report.

"This programme would be rolled out to all the provinces and it has been tailor-made to suit our needs and, as a training committee, we have seized the opportunity to include other relevant topics, and I can safely say that this is more like a refresher course for our clerks of courts in the local courts," she said.

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