That so many Judges have been recusing themselves from sensitive political cases points to the collapse of our judiciary.
We do not see this situation changing unless far reaching judicial changes are made including putting in place a substantive leadership that will provide, guidance and protection from excessive executive interference.
Our Judges who are supposed to be impartial, fearless and answerable to the constitution in enforcing the rule of law are now extremely vulnerable and are shying away from the very cases where their service and expertise are most required.
The hapless victims of injustice are not assured of justice anymore because the independence of the judiciary has been seriously compromised with very deleterious consequences.
The one single ruling by the Supreme Court stating that the President”.. is the overall authority on everything” has driven the final nail into the coffin and semblance of independence and more specifically the separation of powers between the Judiciary and Executive.
Judges are human and will not put themselves to unnecessary jeopardy and harm in contrived circumstances that have been created.
The reluctance of Lusaka High Court Judges to hear the judicial review application challenging the constitutionality of the Chikopa Tribunal is indicative of the malaise that has afflicted the judiciary. Out of all the 15 or so High Court Judges in Lusaka, none appeared ready to hear it. As a result, we assume, the matter was taken to a Judge in Ndola, who happens to be a friend of a friend to the President. Mercifully he has also recused himself. Now the matter is back in Lusaka.
If Judges can not have their cases heard what chance do ordinary litigants stand to seek justice against the executive?
A few weeks ago four High Court Judges in succession recused themselves from hearing a matter brought by former President Rupiah Banda who challenged the decision of the National Assembly remove his immunity.
This is not healthy for our democracy.
Although Zambians have been clamoring for independent courts that are fair, impartial and only accountable to the constitution, it is clear that this principle is now under severe attack and unless something happens and happens very quickly the country will suffer a total collapse of the Judiciary.
Within one year of the Patriotic Front (PF) the Judiciary is but a pale shadow of itself with Judges cowering and fearing for their tenure.
As already observed, it has now become common for judges to recuse themselves from sensitive cases, especially those that deal with people believed to be close to President Michael Sata.
Technically Judges should be accountable to the Constitution and the law – not political pressure, meaning that courts should be accountable to the constitution and through it the people.
Sadly the Supreme court has changed all that and unless something happens very quickly a very dangerous culture will be created.