Judiciary compromised – Miyanda

The independence of the judiciary is compromised because President Michael Sata with the PF government have established a style of leadership that is intimidating every institution in the country Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda has said. The general has also called on President Sata to appoint a substantive Chief Justice, to replace Justice Lombe Chibesakunda who has served for more then a year as acting Chief Justice but whose substantive nomination to the position was rejected by parliament on account of constitutional issues. Speaking in an interview with the Daily Nation Gen Miyanda said President Sata’s style of governance was a danger to the nation as most institutions would not perform according to their expectations because of fear. The Heritage party leader was commenting on reports that four High Court Judges recused themselves from hearing the case of former President Rupiah Banda on Friday. Gen Miyanda said it was unusual that four judges would recues themselves on a particular case and that this was a clear indication that there was something wrong and these people are scared. He said this decision by the judges was a clear indication that that something has gone wrong and that there was a lot of fear by the judges to deal with this case. The opposition leader the judges should not be blamed for recuesing themselves but the intimidation that was prevailing in the country had made it impossible for them to do their work properly. “A judge has a right to recuse himself from a case if they feel they may be biased against one side depending on the reasons or interest in a particular case and this is normal and acceptable. But it is questionable that four judges would excuse themselves from handing this particular case. “It is not the reasons they gave but the fear because the judiciary has been attacked by President Sata. These judges are competent but because the President has directly attacked the judges who were just doing their job, they fear that they could also be suspended. “All the judges are now afraid because the President had constituted a tribunal to deal with the three judges last year because they were doing what they thought was right but because he felt they had gone beyond, he decided to discipline them. “This is clear that all the others are now afraid that they may go against the head of state and this is dangerous because they may force them to make decisions that are wrong,” Gen Miyanda said. The opposition leader also said that it was strange that one of the judges that had recused herself changed her mind and decided to hear the case because she had disqualified herself from hearing the matter in the first place. He wondered if the reasons for the judge had changed because this was going to still doubt in the proceedings. “How can a judge that excused herself at first agree to take up the case? Have the reasons she gave at first changed? This will just make the citizens doubt the credibility of the judge because it is not true that the reasons she gave had changed all the suddenly. These problems can not be resolved by anyone but the executive. We should not even blame the courts by the head of state who has intimidated every institution in this country,” he added. Gen Miyanda blamed Mr Sata for what was happening in the country and said no institution would perform freely because the head of state had tempered with all the institutions including parliament. “We all know that the first institution to be threatened was parliament when MPs voted against a motion, Mr Sata threatened to dissolve parliament and with unjustifiable calls he threatened to dethrone chiefs that were talking to the opposition. “A classic example is when an MP raised a point of order against the composition of the ERB board and government through the minister of justice accepted that the board it was illegal and irregular to have such a board but as if not enough, the minister threatened Jack Mwiimbu. And after that threat some of directors were fired. “What type of a leadership is this? Seriously measures will have to be taken and institutions that were once vibrant have gone go sleep because we have a government in place that only knows how to intimidate people,” he said. The former vice president said it would the independency of the judiciary would only he attained if the executive stopped to interfere in its operations. He said the PF government had introduced a bad style of governance and hoped that the executive would refrain from interfering in the operations of institutions.