7 November 2017

Zambia: Concourt Could Benefit From Incessant Attacks

opinion

Funny that Constitutional Court judges should come under fire from all sides of the Zambian political divide. Note that they are a bunch of individuals with no platform to respond to the criticism being lumped on them. On one hand the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) has labelled them corrupt and incompetent. UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has labelled judges by name as corrupt and has demanding for their removal from the bench.

While this was going on the ruling party was gleefully taking in this spectacle demanding their adversaries respect the independence of the judiciary? But now the judiciary has been hit on a different angle by President Edgar Lungu also hinting at possible unprofessionalism on the part of the Constitutional Court.

So what is the Constitutional Court to do? Perhaps this provides an opportunity for the Constitutional Court to stand for the law. It could be an opportunity to do the right thing and avoid being trapped between praise and censure by either side of the political divide. Doing the right thing may endear themselves only to the most important side of their trade which is justice. Judges after all must not be seen to side with either party of the political divide but be at the service of justice and the law. It could appear that this opportunity presented would help the judiciary extricate itself from political manipulation.

After all they are serving in an environment where they get severely criticized for any decision they make. They are dealing with a thankless bunch that only welcome decisions that favour them. A fierce sense of justice must be the guiding the principle in arriving at a decision. This however, may not be as easy as a stroll in in the park as they learnt when they ruled that ministers and their deputies had remained in office illegally after the dissolution of parliament.

While the whole country applauded them for their steadfastness in implementing the law to the letter they lost favour among some politicians. To date that matter remains unresolved with the former ministers refusing to refund the money they illegally received during the period they served illegally. This presents a test case of how hard sticking to the law is going to be for the people entrusted with interpreting the law.

But these things were never meant to be easy. Constitutional Court judges may have just got the hint that it is time to rise above politics and do the right thing. if the cant make either side happy they might as well make the citizenry happy by correctly dispensing justice.

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