Yotam Mutayachalo writes👇
A dark cloud has eclipsed the judicial process in Zambia following the decision by the Supreme Court to impose a long jail sentence on Gregory Chifire an anti corruption activitst for contempt of court.
The six years jail sentence handed down by the Supreme Court panel of Judges against Mr Chifire without an option of paying fine is too harsh and is seen by many as a move to silence people from holding Judges accountable.
The court should have exercised leniency especially that Mr Chifire is the first offender and infact there are precedents by the Supreme Court in the past to fine convicted individuals after being found guilty of contempt of court rather than meting out custodian sentences.
Therefore Mr Chifire’s lawyers should consider applying before the same bench if it is permissible for the review of the sentence so that a more realistic and less punitive verdict could be considered.
Further judges are not infallible therefore they must also be ready to be held accountable for their judgements because they are not super humanbeings.
However unwarranted and misguided attacks against the judiciary without tangible proof which are deliberately meant to undermine its integrity is wrong and should be discouraged at all times.
It is public knowledge that of late the credibility of our judiciary in the eyes of many Zambians has come under heavy public scrutiny in light of a number of accusations levelled against some members of the bench and I think the institution should do more to restore public confidence.
The judiciary plays a very critical role in the delivery of justice in a just and democratic society and as such it is expected that all Judges and Magistrates must always be above board in their conducts and ensure that they discharge their duties delligently, professionally and constitutionally without any undue influence from any quarters.
Furthermore judicial officers who are proved to be bias or are not independent in the course of discharging their duties are a danger to the security and unity of the nation and must be purged from this important institution without further delay.
Nevertheless I’m alive to the fact that we have some men and women on the bench who are role models and whose judgements have stood the test of time by delivering court verdicts which are above board and have not raised any eyebrows from members of the public.
In view of the coming national dialogue process,it is important that judicial reforms are critical so that few individuals tarnishing the good image of the judiciary are removed from the institution.
In conclusion,Zambia can also learn something from Ghana were some corrupt judges were exposed by an undercover investigative journalist prompting citizens to demand for a complete overhaul of the entire judicial system which led to the weeding out of undesirable and corrupt elements from the judiciary and this is possible if the government has political will.