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JUDICIARY MUST BE INDEPENDENT

By NATION REPORTER

THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has called for the complete autonomy of the Judiciary and has appealed to government to fully implement the constitutional provisions on Financial Independence and make third arm of government self-accounting.

And LAZ has welcomed Chief Justice Mumba Malila’s instructions to High Court Judges to begin delivering their judgements and ruling within 108 days and 90 days respectively or would have to explain their failure to comply with the order by way of giving reasons 

Lungisani Zulu, the LAZ president has said the Association was aware of an array of challenges such as lack of financial autonomy facing the Judiciary in its discharge of its mandates.

Mr Zulu said the Judiciary would only be able to fully discharge its mandate if it was financially autonomous and that it was therefore important that government should implement the constitutional provisions on Financial Independence of the Judiciary.

Mr Zulu said Article 123 of the Constitution provided that the Judiciary should be a self-accounting institution to directly deal with the Ministry responsible for finance.

He said the Judiciary should be adequately funded in every financial year for it to be able to effectively carry out its functions.

The LAZ president stated that government’s full implementation of the constitutional provisions which would make the judiciary autonomous would be able to make justice system deal with delayed judgements and be more effective in carrying out its functions.  

“We call on Government to fully implement the constitutional provisions on Financial Independence of Judiciary, specifically Article 123 of the Constitution, which provide that the Judiciary must be a self-accounting institution and shall deal directly with the Ministry responsible for finance in matters relating to its finances and that the Judiciary must be adequately funded in a financial year to enable it effectively carry out its functions.

Government’s full implementation of these Constitutional provisions will enable the Judiciary to deal with delayed judgments and be more effective in carrying out its functions,” Mr Zulu said.

And Mr Zulu has said LAZ is happy with that the Judiciary has taken measures to address the challenges of delayed delivery of judgements and rulings and would therefore support the Chief Justice on advising the High Court Judges to deliver their judgements and rulings within a specified period.

He however stated trhat LAZ was aware that staffing levels in the Judiciary had remained a challenge, disclosing that the High Court only had 51 Judges against a population of 19 million citizens.

Mr Zulu also said the judiciary had been suffering from lack of adequate court rooms both at the High Court and Subordinate Courts in Lusaka and across the country.

“LAZ welcomes efforts by the Judiciary to address the challenge of delayed judgments in our judicial system. Article 118(2) of the Constitution enjoins the courts, in exercising judicial authority, to ensure that justice is not delayed. The public expects the Judiciary to act in line with the constitutional principles.

“In welcoming the circular, we would also like to highlight that LAZ, as a stakeholder, is aware of some of the challenges facing the judiciary in effectively discharging its mandate which are principally around the financial autonomy of the judiciary,” Mr Zulu said.

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