The Heritage Party objects to the declaration by the Vice President Dr Guy Scott purporting to confirm the appointment of Madam Justice Lombe Chibesakunda as substantive Chief Justice. We advise Government to desist from treating Parliament like a Boy Scout Jamboree, for cracking jokes and entertaining Boy Scouts by the Scout Master! The Vice President’s Question Time does not inspire because some serious questions are treated as jokes. Answers to MPs are answers to we the citizens, hence seriousness is demanded of the Vice President and other Ministers.
During the Vice President’s Question Time last Friday 12th July 2013, Dr Guy Scott was asked to clarify the appointment and status of Madam Lombe Chibesakunda who has been Acting Chief Justice for over a year. In his own words he said this, “there is no illegality that I am aware in employing anybody as a justice or Chief Justice on contract and she is on contract at the moment and as far as I am aware there are no plans to end the situation, and bringing the name for ratification was routine”.
The naivety displayed in the Vice President’s answer is baffling. During question time the Government should shine by giving complete answers, not mere slogans and tired clichés. Imagine he has declared ratification moribund! An answer by the Government from the floor of the House must inspire and be authoritative in putting to rest contentious issues that are tending to divide the nation. This is because incomplete and sub-standard answers lead to further questions and speculation and hence prolong a controversy.
We as concerned citizens are NOT calling for plans but demanding for observance of and compliance with the constitution, as sworn by these honourable gentlemen and women.
The naivety displayed in the VP’s response is baffling, to say the least. Dr Scott was speaking as Leader of Government Business in Parliament, meaning that he is the Representative of the President in the House. When he answers it is the President speaking. So we are now demanding for a complete answer from the Government.
Since the Vice President has declared that Supreme Court Judge Madam Justice Chibesakunda is on contract as Chief Justice, we ask the following questions:
- The Contract: what is the nature of the contract and under which provision of the Constitution was it drawn up? What is the date of commencement and expiry? Has Madam Justice Chibesakunda, herself a lawyer, signed the said contract as substantive Chief Justice?
- 2. Article 93 (1): this article makes the appointment of a Chief Justice subject to ratification by the National Assembly. Since the National Assembly did not ratify Madam Chibesakunda, has the Executive declared Article 93(1) redundant and hence will not submit another name as required in Article 44(4)?
- If the VP is confident of his declaration of the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice under the alleged contract, will he publish the said contract, complete with dates and terms and conditions?
We wonder why the President and his ministers swear the Oath of Office before they take up their duties! Our view is that what has been declared is NOT the law; hence we demand that the Vice President responds to our questions by citing the actual provisions relied on in appointing Madam Chibesakunda as Substantive Chief Justice. In the alternative we challenge the Vice President to a live public debate on this urgent constitutional matter.
By the way, on paper today there is a substantive Deputy Chief Justice (Madam Justice Irene Mambilima), who should have automatically begun to act as Chief Justice, following the forced resignation of the incumbent Chief Justice, Mr Justice Sakala. But she is employed at the Electoral Commission of Zambia, an appointment without a judge’s security of tenure, and thus has been shunted out of the succession line by a calculated political ruse! This is a trick engineered in the 1st Republic and must be condemned and reviewed.
[15TH JULY 2013]