THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has condemned Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Davies Chama for castigating High Court judge Mwila Chitabo for allegedly overturning the decision by President Edgar Lungu to set up a tribunal against Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito.
LAZ president George Chisanga said his organisation is concerned with the statement made on Judge Chitabo and Chali in the ongoing cases.
Mr Chisanga said the totality of the statements made by Mr Chama who occupies such a high office in the hierarchy of the party in government are inflammatory, unacceptable, uncalled for and are an assault on constitutionalism, the rule of law and due process that must apply on constitutional democracy like Zambia.
“The fact that the statement has been made by the ruling party, of which the republican president is the president and whom is himself a lawyer, is further cause for grave concern,” he said.
Mr Chisanga added that the open attack on the person of the honourable judge is a direct affront to the independence of the judiciary which all well meaning citizens have duty to protect.
“In taking this position, LAZ is not suggesting citizens should be forbidden from commenting on the decisions of judges once court cases are concluded.
However, where such comment is allowed to take the form of attacks on the members of the Superior Courts of our Judicature a duty arises not only on the part of LAZ but also on the part of all other members of the public who would like to see a thriving democracy in the country nourished by a judiciary which is both independent and accountable to rise to the protection of judicial officers who cannot speak for themselves,” he said.
Mr Chisanga said by the very nature of their appointment, training and orientation, the judicial officers are often unable to protect themselves against public comments touching upon the conduct of their office.
“LAZ wishes to give timely counsel not only to the leaders of the party in government but also to all other users of judicial services, including the other wings of government, to jealously guard the independence of the judiciary by eschewing commentary that personally attacks judicial officers,” he added.
The LAZ president said it is manifestly clear that the statement by Mr Chama are being made in maim, out of ignorance of the law and procedure for challenging real or apparent grievances relating to the manner in which judicial officers handle cases that they are assigned to preside over.
The association has appealed to the Attorney General to give guidance to the government to give guidance to the government on the legal avenues available to it in redressing any grievances that he may have against Justice Chali and Chitabo in a manner they have handled the matter of the DPP, particularly as the matter is in court.