Integrity, honesty, respect and dignity are the virtues that the Judiciary and the legal fraternity must always espouse.
But the confession by Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda that there is rampant corruption in the Judiciary and the branding of some lawyers as criminals in the robes by Acting Attorney General Musa Mwenye have put our justice system in serious check.
We are now being told we should not trust lawyers because at best, they can give hope that one can get some semblance of justice from the Judiciary and at worst, they are nothing but criminals in robes preying on their clients and their bank accounts.
So we have a situation where the head of the Judiciary has made a public confession of how rotten the judicial system has become with corrupt elements while the legal fraternity is fraught with individuals whose only ambition is to defraud not only their clients but government through tax evasion and non-remittance of Value Added Tax (VAT).
This naturally leaves citizens in between two hard places, rendering their situation precarious hence becoming vulnerable as those in the legal fraternity prey on them.
We all want to run to the courts to seek justice and it is our hope that we could get cheap and fair representation from the lawyers as well as fair hearing from the courts but it is now clear that Zambia has a legal fraternity whose preoccupation is now to fraudulently dip their hands in their clients’accounts.
In just more ways than one, we agree with observations of both the Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and the Acting Attorney General that the Judiciary is without doubt corrupt while legal fraternity has been invaded by criminals using the legal robes to rob the unsuspecting clients.
But even as we have such revelations, what is it that the leadership in the judiciary is doing about this situation to rid the judicial system of elements that have tarnished the image of the judiciary.
Many a time we have heard the Law Association of Zambia pronouncing sanctions against erring lawyers but we are yet to hear publicly what punitive action has been taken against men and women on the bench professionally misconducting themselves.
Of the few cases on record, the decision to reprimand those on the Bench had either been politically motivated to serve the interest of certain groups of individuals fraternizing with those in power and that is not cleansing the Judiciary.
Above that, we strongly believe that the Judiciary must have the authority to begin to vet Judges whose judicial judgement in dispensing justice and their moral compass would have been overridden by their selfish desire to serve their fractured political or pocket interests.
We are happy and encouraged that the judiciary and its legal fraternity is no longer living in denial and it is our hope the leadership is working at discovering the cure to this cancerous and legal tumor that has so much wrecked havoc in our judicial system.
The time to act is now.