Zambia has had an acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and deputy Chief Justice since June 2012 after justice Ernest Sakala and justice Dennis Chirwa were forced to resign for refusing to protect President Michael Sata’s allies Fred M’membe and Mutembo Nchito.
On Friday, the opposition led by Kalomo MP (UPND) Request Muntanga demanded that the position of Chief Justice be substantively filled as soon as possible.
This was during debate on the K275 billion proposed budget for the Judiciary.
Muntanga said there was an urgent need for the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice as Justice Chibesakunda has acted for a long time.
He wondered why the PF has not acted swiftly to appoint an office holder for the important constitutional office which is critical to governance.
“There must be a Chief Justice in place so that ordinary people can run to the office for justice,” Muntanga said.
He accused the police of abusing the Public Order Act and feels the presence of a substantive Chief Justice will help in delivering justice suggesting the current status of an acting Chief Justice had compromised the delivery of justice as those holding the position would want to please President Sata so that their names could be forwarded to Parliament for confirmation.
Muntanga said in its current state (without a substantive Chief Justice), the Judiciary is susceptible to interference from the executive.
His MMD counterpart Senga Hill’s Kapembwa Simbao (MMD) said the Judiciary, being the third arm of the government, deserves a lot of attention by allocating it more money than what it has been given.
Simbao, who is also of the view that the position of Chief Justice must be filled immediately, said it is not fair to allocate the Judiciary a smaller amount of money than what the Ministry of Justice has been given.
But Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba claimed there is no interference in the Judiciary by the executive.
Kabimba said the government will introduce judicial reforms which will make justice accessible to all, especially the poor.
“We want a Judiciary that is going to serve Zambians,” said Kabimba.