Sangwa revives complaint against Chief Justice Ernest Sakala

Sangwa revives complaint against Chief Justice Ernest Sakala

John Sangwa

LUSAKA lawyer John Sangwa has revived his complaint against Chief Justice Ernest Sakala, which he lodged with the Judicial Complaints Authority (JCA) two years ago on grounds that Justice Sakala had breached the Judicial Code of Conduct.

Mr Sangwa has decided to revive the case following non-action on the matter by the JCA since June 2009 when he wrote to the authority to complain about the alleged breach of the Code by Mr Sakala.

Mr Sangwa alleged in his letter dated June 24, 2009 that Mr Sakala directed High Court Judge, Christine Phiri to speed up a case involving Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu who had sued the defunct task force on corruption.

He contends in his letter to the JCA that Ms Justice Phiri was pressured to speed up the case, which removed the independence of the High Court Justices and breached provisions of section 25 of the Judicial Code of Conduct, Act number 13 of 1999 as amended by Act number 13, of 2006.

“The conduct of the Lordship (Chief Justice) is in violation of section 3, of the Judicial Code of Conduct as it undermined the impendence, integrity and impartiality of Madam Phiri,” Mr Sangwa wrote.

Mr Sangwa contended that there were several cases that had pended for years at the judiciary without proper reason and wondered what interest the Chief Justice had in the case that involved his clients.

He accused the Chief Justice of siding with the defunct task force on corruption which amounted to compromising his position.

Mr Sangwa said the case involving his clients had been adjourned from about June 2009 to the following month because of commitments by the two parties but a few days later, the Chief Justice pressured the Judge to speed up the case which was unheard of.

Mr Sangwa said Ms Justice Phiri told him that she had an exchange with the Judge in-charge who in turn reported to the Chief Justice on the case and that the Chief Justice emphasised that the case must move faster.

“There are several cases of people who are in prison who have not appeared in court for years when criminal cases are supposed to be given priority. There are also judges who have not heard cases for years and yet cases were allocated to them and even those that have been heard, in some cases, judgments have been pending for years,” said Mr Sangwa in his letter.

He said as far as he was concerned, there had been no representation from the Attorney General’s chambers to the Judge-in-charge or the Chief Justice over the pace at which the case before Ms Justice Phiri was moving.

Mr Sangwa said the keen interest by the Chief Justice was worrying and that there was no provision in the constitution that would justify the intervention of the Chief Justice in any case.

He said after the intervention by the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Phiri had to comply with the demands of the Chief Justice.

Mr Sangwa said the Chief Justice was only expected to intervene in the conduct of judges when they had violated the law instead of going directly to a judge.

Meanwhile, Mr Sangwa expressed displeasure in another letter to the Chief Justice on the notion that judges, judgments and the judiciary as a whole should not be criticised describing it as primitive, myopic and retrogressive.

Mr Sangwa wrote in his letter dated June 30, 2009 that Zambians paid taxes to the judiciary and should have the right to demand transparency and accountability from the judges.

He said stopping Zambians from criticising the judiciary was not aiding the judiciary but the institution was being reduced to a secret society.

Mr Sangwa said the President of the Republic of Zambia, ministers and other politicians were open to criticism and that the judiciary needs to be more open, as a powerful institution.

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