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Thursday, 26 September 2013

Rotten Judges

President Michael Sata recently suspended two High Court Judges Emilia Sunkutu and Timothy Katenekwa and has appointed separate tribunals to investigate them on various charges.

Although the charges have not been specified, the suspensions are alleged to be connected to alleged incompetence and misconduct. The suspensions follow complaints processed through the Judicial Complaints Authority, unlike the Chikopa Tribunal which was called following complaints by debtors who owe the Development Bank of Zambia more than K18 billion.

The new tribunals will be co-chaired by former Chief Justice Mathew Ngulube and Mr Justice Frederick Chomba SC who is former minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General. President Sata urged the tribunal to ensure that the public knows the truth about the conduct of the two suspended judges.

It is worrying that a lot of money is being spent on these tribunals. One wonders whether there are better ways of disciplining judges than endless tribunals. Of course the process our in our constitution. The system was instituted to make the judiciary more independent. But with such a rotten judiciary it is too costly to call tribunals at every turn. I wonder whether the new draft constitution even seeks to deal with these issues!

To complicate matters some of the tribunals have no credibility. How much has Chikopa cost Zambian tax payers? Is any MP even thinking of tabling a Parliamentary question to get to the root of the financial cost? These are the questions our MPs should be focusing on.

Chola Mukanga | Economist
Copyright © Zambian Economist 2013

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