The current judicial reforms taking place in the judiciary lack ingenuity as they do not address the major challenges it is facing, says UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.
In an interview, Hichilema said that reforms that target individuals and not the whole system would not help to cleanse the rot in the judiciary.
Hichilema observed that an independent judiciary was cardinal to the promotion of good governance and respect for human rights.
“Zambia needs reforms in the judiciary which we all support. It is strange that our colleagues in the PF feel that reform is all about putting their relatives in senior positions. They think reforms are about protecting their friends,” said Hichilema.
He said that the current erosion of confidence in the judiciary was caused by the PF’s interference in the operations and administration of justice in the country.
Hichilema said that Zambians have continued questioning many decisions made by the judiciary because of lack of genuine reforms which were supposed to inspire the people.
He said that it was shameful that some individuals and some civil society which promoted the idea of reforms in the judiciary have now gone into hiding.
“This is bad. Zambians must not expect anything good on matters of reforms under the leadership of President Sata. Especially that the PF government has successfully shot down the private members motion seeking government to provide a roadmap for the enactment of a new constitution and also to expedite the process,” said Hichilema.
Hichilema said that a new constitution would have given all institutions of governance the independence the people of Zambia have been talking about.
“So then, how do you hope or believe that the reforms going on in the judiciary are genuine when there is no proper legal frame work? For instance the constitution is very clear on issues surrounding the office of the Chief Justice and who should be Chief Justice. But the PF has created circus in the office of the Chief Justice by allowing it to be ridiculed almost every day through its crocked way of doing things,” said Hichilema.
He said that Zambians were in desperate need of genuine reforms and a fair and impartial judiciary which would address serious issues of justice and equity before the law.
Hichilema said that the current pre-determined reforms were aimed at protecting the corrupt and evil doers in government, the corrupt and evil doers in government.
“This can be seen in the manner cartels surrounding the Head of State have been behaving towards Zambians. We have seen how corruption has killed institutions of governance such as police, ACC, DEC and the office of the president itself. Zambians have no hope or respect for these institutions because of being abused by the PF,” he said.
He said once the UPND forms government, genuine reforms to enhance the capacity of government to address issues of justice through an independent judiciary would be achieved.
Hichilema said that reforms under the UPND would not target judges alone but would include legal practitioners, police, politicians and all citizens in order to genuinely reform the system to serve people in a much respectable and just manner.
He said, “We wasn’t to do things differently and that we shall achieve it because we have a plan and the desire to make the judiciary independent as ever before. We don’t want to interfere with the operation of the police, we don’t want to stop ACC from investigating ministers just because they belong to our party, we don’t want to fire officials because they don’t agree with us.”