By Patricia Male
Center for Constitutionalism and Legal Justice is concerned by a letter authored by lawyer, John Sangwa, to President Hakainde Hichilema urging the head of state to undertake an unconstitutional route of appointing the Chief Justice.
Center Director Isaac Mwanza argues that although the constitution of Zambia vests the appointment of judges and chief justice in the republican president, the appointment can only be made upon recommendation by the judicial service commission and subject to ratification by the national assembly of Zambia which conducts public hearing during the scrutiny process.
Mr. Mwanza further argues that contrary to the allegation contained in Mr. Sangwa’s letter that the previous process of appointing judges was a sham, the process of appointing a Chief Justice or any other judge is accompanied by levels of transparency as every citizen wanting to comment on the nominee is free to write and appear before the parliamentary select committee scrutiny appointing of the presidential nominees.
He explains that while the idea proposed by Mr. Sangwa for potential candidates for chief justice to apply and be interviewed can be embraced by the Judicial Service Commission subject to other considerations, the search for ideal and more perfect judges and chief justice cannot still be found by the process Mr. Sangwa suggests, unless angels applied and are interviewed by fellow angels.
Mr. Mwanza has since called on the judicial service commission to recommend as many qualified persons as possible to the president or those who qualify for appointment as judge of the Supreme Court for possible appointment as Chief Justice.
He has further implored the republican president to submit the names of all recommended persons to parliament and should be from those names that parliament should ratify one nominee after a rigorous process that engages members of the public.