Selective justice taking root in Zambia

Nine Civil Society Organisations have asked Chief Justice Irene Mambilima to investigate Patriotic Front media director Sunday Chanda following his attacks on magistrate Exnorbit Zulu.

She won’t do it. Davis Chama, as Patriotic Front secretary general, has directly denounced judges before and nothing happened to him. Amos Chanda, Edgar Lungu’s press aide, has denounced and threatened judges and nothing has happened to him. Edgar himself has threatened Constitutional Court judges over his eligibility to contest the 2021 presidential elections and nothing has happened to him.

Justice Mambilima and the entire judiciary is failing to deal with Sunday Nkonde who has remained a judge through political patronage, the protection of State House. How can a person with so many transgressions like Nkonde continue to be a judge and write judgments?

Last week, the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court ordered the arrest of Dr Miti “in the interest of justice” to answer to corruption related charges brought out at the time he served as Ministry of Health permanent secretary.

Choma-based magistrate Exnorbit Zulu, who was sitting in Lusaka, said it was not too late to present Dr Miti before court to also answer to corruption-related charges.

Magistrate Zulu said this after convicting former Ministry of Health human resources officer Henry Kapoko and four others for theft of over K6.8 million public money when they were employees of the Ministry of Health at the time Dr Miti was permanent secretary.

He further said Dr Miti should answer to corruption charges because he was aware of what was transpiring in the ministry, although he feigned ignorance.

But his commentary titled Persecuting State Witness Dr Simon Miti: Smelly flies in the oil of justice, Chanda wondered what had happened to the principle of natural justice.

“The judiciary here in Zambia has over the years performed its role with dignity and honour and the majority of men and women in this noble profession have unwaveringly dedicated themselves to discharging the sacred duty of justice. However, there are a few flies in the oil and of late there has been a sordid whiff emanating from some quarters of the judiciary that is nauseating the air and space of justice. Take the Choma based magistrate’s pitiful attempts to sully Dr Simon Miti, who was a State witness in the case against Henry Kapoko and four others for instance. Dr Miti was made State Witness by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mr Chalwe Mchenga and continued to be so, even under Mr Mutembo Nchito. He was cross-examined by the cream of the country’s top drawer of legal brains and as key State Witness; he duly cooperated leading to the Courts securing a conviction in the matter. As a State Witness, Dr Miti appeared before this magistrate and two or three others in this particular case and it’s strange that the magistrate didn’t at the time see the need for Dr Miti to be cross-examined on issues he’s never been charged for,” wrote Chanda. “It is unbelievably bizarre and outlandish that a State Witness should now be a subject of conviction by a magistrate. Dr Miti has never been cited nor has he ever appeared before court so how did the Choma based magistrate judge him? Whatever happened to the principle of natural justice? When has a judge ever directed who and should not be prosecuted? Something just doesn’t smell right! It stinks! It is a foul unwholesome embarrassment to the judiciary. Dr Miti was never suspended but was sent on leave with full benefits to allow for investigations; he cooperated and was back at work thereafter. The man has never been fired – neither for corruption nor any other offence for that matter, whether real or assumed. This is a man – a true patriot who has diligently served his country through his service to Heads of State including the late Dr Frederick Jacob Titus Chiluba, the late Levy Patrick Mwanawasa, Rupiah Bwezani Banda, the late Michael Chilufya Sata and now the incumbent. He has served with honour and devotion for over 15 years making him one of the longest – if not the longest serving Permanent Secretary among his peers. He served the late Mwanawasa faithfully and stayed with him until his death in Paris, France. At what point did late President Mwanawasa fire Dr Miti for corruption as alleged by some moral misfits? Could it be that all the Presidents he served under were victims of poor judgment? Isn’t that just absurd? This whole thing reeks! It is a politically charged personal vendetta against State House and calculated at tainting His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu and it forms part of the bigger scheme sponsored by the opposition to attack and discredit the President and those close to him. That should also explain the morbid interest in also soiling the image of State House Permanent Secretary Ms Christa Kalulu…. We ask the magistrate who it is that prosecuted Dr. Miti and who his defence counsel was. It is public knowledge that courts exist to adjudicate on the merits and demerits of the prosecution and never to charge individuals. This is a very strange phenomenon and a rancid embarrassment to the judiciary. It’s extremely shocking that the magistrate charged a person who has never been charged and attempts to convict him together with the people being convicted…

This confirms the existence of an agenda to divert the narrative from development gains scored by the PF, in order to embarrass and undermine the current President using fiction and underhand methods by individuals abusing offices, which are expected to be fair in dispensing justice and which are sacred by design.”

Chanda will get away with this. But imagine what would happen if this came from an opponent of this regime!

These selective prosecutions are undermining our fight against corruption and other abuses.
Without respite, we need to fight corruption, a terrible cankerworm, that has deprived Zambians of a better life and stunted Zambia’s development.

But we have seen that as the courts punish corruption, corruption fights back ferociously.
Fairness is the most abused concept, especially in countries where the judicial system is subjugated by totalitarian headship.

It has been proven in several instances that the Anti Corruption Commission, the Drug Enforcement Commission, the police and our entire criminal justice system have indeed mastered the art of selective justice. They can literally sit on a criminal complaint if it is against a “friendly” ally, but act with haste and dispatch on complaints against perceived enemies of their political masters, their appointing authorities.

What magistrate Zulu did is not a small thing, given the timidity in our entire judicial process. Today in Zambia we have magistrates and judges who are always looking for technicalities to free the allies of those in power from accountability.

No less than the Constitutional Court, which is supposedly the embodiment of everything that is just, fair, and reasonable has not exactly lived up to its constitutional mandate. They want to enjoy the benefits – financial, status and otherwise – of being adjudicators, law enforcement officers – without doing their work.

Their offices rightly stress the importance of due process of law. Yet, they cannot act on cases or complaints with the cold neutrality of an impartial tribunal, which is specifically required in due process. It seems that they have mastered the art of selective justice – harsh on some, soft on others, even if they all suffer from similar and analogous circumstances. Slow to act on complaints against the friendly, but quick to decide from perceived hostiles. The enemies of their appointing authorities, are their enemies, too. So, it seems. This is how we see it from where we stand.
They have blatantly violated their own rules in subservience to their appointing masters.

Look at how the Anti Corruption Commission is dealing with Chishimba Kambwili! Look at how the police deals with perceived enemies of those in power! Look at how our courts, at all levels, deal with those who appoint and promote them! The Anti Corruption Commission and the police freely distribute press releases to denounce the alleged wrongdoings of their masters’ enemies, without prudence, without judiciousness to their influencing the disposition of the case before them, and without care that the alleged wrongdoer would be exposed to ridicule and public censure. Due process? Impartial tribunal? Just look at how they dealt with Kambwili and Hakainde Hichilema! Look at how they have dealt with complaints against Kaizar Zulu! They are protective and clearing agencies for the friends and allies of their political masters. Selected decisions are made first and the facts twisted later to suit the decision – contrary to the normal norms of the administration of the criminal justice system.

In short, it is clear that our entire judicial process, even in its belated wisdom, adhere to a shamefully inequitable policy of selective justice, legal discrimination.

The essence of the argument for equality before the law is that the same rules that apply to everyone else need not be applied to one who is not a friend or ally of those in power – the powerful, the politically connected.

Ours is really a rotten society. The law enforcement agencies are rotten! The judiciary is rotten! The political leadership is rotten! Even the church leadership is rotten!

We need to clean up this rot. The spirit of liberation is needed today. If we the people continue to divide, they – the evil and rotten powers that be – will conquer.

We are living in interesting times.

Source: The Mast

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