By Isaac Mwanza (YALI)
The concept of justice being delivered from the open court can best be summarised by what one writer wrote:
“Justice must not only be seen to be done but has to be seen to be believed.”
Zambia’s Judicial system is a circus when it comes to justice especially when the judiciary becomes under intense pressure in trying these political cases.
The Judiciary has no excuse for limiting public knowledge on how the Hakainde Hichilema case will be tried, or how the DPP may be left with no option but to enter a Nolle, or for the public to know how the court may have arrived at its decisions on whether to acquit him or convict him for treason over a road altercation in Mongu.
If Chief Justice Mambilima does not want the media or counsel to record verbatim of the proceedings of the court so they an accurately report, who is the Judiciary going to blame if inaccurate reports are reported by media houses? Will you cite the media for contempt when the Court itself is promoting inaccurate reporting?
You even prevent advocates from recording court proceedings, if they wish to, for purposes of reviewing and preparing their case on whether HH has a case to answer or no case to answer. Does the Court want to doctor some verbatim on record which it intends to be the only source for advocates to review their notes on proceedings?
What is it that the Judiciary is seeking to hide from the public on the treason trial of Hakainde Hichilema which has attracted so much public attention? How will the public get to believe the State made their case and HH was wrong and committed treason by barring people from freely attending.
What madam Mambilima and her Judiciary should have done was to actually tell citizens not to travel to Court as the trial would be televised on various local and international media who may want to televise it. The Judiciary should have, in fact, asked ZNBC to publicly cover proceedings so that people don’t have the pressure of going to court and congest the courtroom.
The orders by the Registrar, which no doubt are sanctioned by Chief Justice as Head of the Judiciary, have nothing to deal with controlling the unruly cadres but has more to do with censorship or acts meant to cite some media houses for contempt who may report wrongly because the Judiciary wanted them to do so.
If it is their intention to keep the treason trial in secret, they should have opted to have the trial conducted in Chambers or in-camera. Even those who have committed crimes against humanity, we have seen footages of them being tried in truly open courts where necessary. There is something the Zambian Judiciary is hiding in the dispensation of justice and this must make Chief Justice Mambilima to resign.
Some acts of the Judiciary have been one of the many reasons why people charged with unbailable offences have stayed in prison for a year and may more years without trial or with delays in concluding trial and only to be found innocent later. The Judiciary in Zambia is not the true protector of our people’s liberties but an accomplice in the violation of human rights.
People had expected a lot from madam Irene Mambilima when she was appointed to take charge of the judiciary but, for the head of the judiciary to allow such orders to remain in force, is quiet a let down to say the least. Could it be that late President Michael Chilufya Sata was so intelligent enough that when Ernest Sakala had been sent into early retirement, he did not want the ratified Deputy Chief Justice to take over the control of the judiciary and was best placed as head of the Electoral Commission? The man may have really known something that some of us who wanted Irene Mambilima to over the reins of the Judiciary did not know.
Cry My Beloved Country