Zambia: Uses and Abuses of the Justice System

I don’t often agree with our president, Mr. Michael Sata, but I think we can probably acknowledge that he got this one right.

Sata deserves some credit for the candid description of his own Minister of Justice Sebastian Zulu. The only thing he can’t do is run away from taking responsibility for appointing a man whose delivery is useless into an important position.  In an environment in which the president is gambling (and losing) so much political capital over “judicial reform” – he should perhaps take a closer look at his own cabinet.

Zulu is, as in Sata’s own words, as useless as the report he recently presented from the commission of inquiry on radar contracts for the three international airports. (We can only presume that Sata had already had a preconceived conclusion of which enemy he wanted to prosecute, and was upset that the justice system was incapable of providing the pretext he sought to manufacture).

And High Court judge Fulgence Chisanga has just confirmed why this former UNIP Solicitor General deserves no position in the “so much talked about” judicial reforms or any reasonable government.

Reforming the justice system in the country will be incomplete without addressing an incompetent, disgraced and clue-less justice minister.

Instead of calling for Chief Justice Ernest Sakala to vacate his position, Zulu should be the immediate point of instance, by the same people sponsoring his careless statements and work.

Senior at law as he may be, Zulu is operating like an misguided cadet, drunk on newly found powers, that forgets the limits of his jurisdiction to even pour scorn on the judiciary in a matter his ignorance is more pronounced that anything else.

Zulu’s misconduct – a reminder of his spy days for MMD on UNIP – followed Judge Chisanga’s decision to stay proceedings of a Tribunal appointed by President Sata to investigate the misconduct of a Supreme Court judge and two High Court judges after arguments that it was illegal and premature.

Shortly after that decision by judge Chisanga on May 17, Zulu rushed to the PF propaganda media outlet The Post Newspaper – the chief complainant of the judge’s alleged misconduct – and proudly declared; “I have ordered the Solicitor General to immediately have that stay revoked on the ground that under Section 16 of the sate proceedings Act, an injunction may not be granted against the state.

“An order of stay is in fact a mandatory injunction which is ordering that the tribunal should not take off. That is what the law does not allow. It (law) doesn’t allow such an order as far as I am concerned.”

Zulu was, unsurprisingly, shocked at the order passed by the judge. This is because his legal mind is heavily impaired as he went on to suggest; “The order further goes on to say that they (judges) should be reinstated and that the tribunal should not sit, that’s a mandatory injunction, the law says you cannot do that.

“Your know that I was Solicitor General before. I know what I am talking about. I am very surprised that they have done that. They cannot issue a mandatory injunction against the state.”

As if his message through Fred M’membe’s Post Newspaper was not enough ridicule on the judiciary, Zulu further organised a press briefing at which he spewed more dirt on the judges.

What Zulu, perhaps, had conveniently forgotten was that his argument was not only outdated but had no backing at law clearly displaying the ignorance of a member of the executive responsible for an important ministry.

When judge Chisanga delivered her reasoning to sustain the stay on Thursday May 24, Zulu was comprehensively exposed such that if it was not for his demagoguery behaviour, the honourable thing for him to do would be vacating his office.

Firstly, using the same law Zulu – a regret of a State Counsel – attempted to apply was reminded on his misguided approach and the consequence of such a contemptuous style of operation.

Judge Chisanga said of Zulu; “This conduct is unbecoming of a person on whom the lofty status of state counsel has been conferred and in fact demeans that eminent status.”

By all means, Zulu was trying to please M’membe prompting judge Chisanga’s response; “Professional ethics were seemingly sacrificed on the alter of expediency. Such conduct must be condemned strongly for it is demeaning to the Legal profession.”

With such behaviour, President Sata can’t be faulted for describing Zulu’s work as “useless” because his unprofessional and grossly disturbing conduct befits so and disqualifies him from supervising any structural changes to the judiciary as they run the risk of being “useless reforms.”

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