It is very dangerous when the judiciary is seen to aid massive corruption and plunder.
It is not good enough to hide behind technical verbosity and verbiage to defend outright plunder. This is an affront to common sense and popular appreciation of facts which must be allowed to stand in courts of law. They should not be supplanted by complicated legal language.
Plunder and pillage by “crooks in robes” crafted in deliberately flawed contracts and agreements should not be defended by otiose technicalities’ that glorify “sharpness”.
Citizens turn to the law because they feel injured or indeed fear for injury or loss of common assets and therefore expect Judges to appreciate their concern than apply a vetting mechanism based on obscure case law and legalese which allows “crooks in robes” get away with plunder.
Judges, it has been said, must assume the role of independent policy makers or independent “trustees” on behalf of society. This is a status that goes beyond the traditional role of judges as mere interpreters of the Constitution and laws. They are custodians of common interests and values.
Doing otherwise defeats the maxim that justice must be seen to be done. Zambians will never understand why a judge will allow crooks to connive and get away with massive public resources while penalizing petty crime.
Renowned law Professor Brian Z. Tamanaha, has said “… many prominent judges and jurists acknowledged that there were gaps and uncertainties in the law and that judges must sometimes make choices.”
Judges must choose between serving the narrow parochial interests of law at the expense of serving the greater good of society. In any functioning democracy the citizenry expect the judiciary to provide effective checks and balances.
The judiciary must represent wholesomeness, integrity and above all absolute reliability. It should be the one institution to which all citizens turn to without worry of entrenched political, social or indeed economic interests.
In other words the judiciary must not flow with political fortunes.
Zambians expect that the Judiciary will serve as independent “trustees” who must, when necessary exhibit judicial activism in order to protect national interests than serve the narrow interest of sterile judicial conservatism or restraint.
The interpretation of law must of necessity change with time if it is to remain relevant. The laws did not take account of “crooks in robes” who easily manipulate the law governing, contracts and agreements to plunder and pillage with impunity.
That is why Zambians must demand from the next Government a thorough cleansing of the judiciary to restore confidence. Our colleagues in Kenya have a vetting commission which has performed outstanding work in removing misfits appointed to serve sectional interests.
It is a well known fact that our judiciary is at the mercy of a cabal that has acquired the power to reward and punish judicial officers who demonstrate an amount of independence, professionalism and adherence to the spirit and practice of the law.
Either Mr. Hichilema or indeed Dr. Mumba must know that their first duty will be to implement meaningful judicial reforms championed by individuals of integrity- people whose hands are not dripping with criminality and the blood of innocent victims.
This should be followed by a commission of inquiry that should investigate and prosecute all those who aided and abetted massive plunder and abuse of financial regulations.
Thereafter whatever resources have been stolen and whatever they have subsequently bought should be recovered.
As a nation we must start afresh with a clean and transparent judiciary that will hold the interests of the nation at heart than use big words to shelter crooks.