Since the publication of the statement attributable to the Honourable Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda that there is corruption in the Judiciary which must be fought, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has been inundated with press queries to state its position on the matter following such a disclosure by the holder of the highest Judicial Office in the Country.
LAZ wishes to state that it highly commends the Acting Chief Justice for acknowledging the reality of corruption in the Judiciary. It is an act of boldness and an expression of greatness for the Acting Chief Justice to make a public pronouncement on a vice that is quickly becoming endemic not only in the Judiciary but also in other public institutions of governance in our Country as well as in the private institutions whose administration and operations interfaces with public institutions. It is the hope and expectation of LAZ that other holders of high public office will emulate the Acting Chief Justice, and, when opportunities present themselves, make public pronouncements of and about the state of the institutions over which they preside as far as the existence or perception of corruption is concerned. An admission of the existence of a problem is always the incentive to devising processes and interventions for addressing or mitigating such a problem.
LAZ is an integral part of the Justice delivery system in the Country. It therefore follows that any identified problem of corruption in the Judiciary, whether real or apparent, must of necessity affect the standing of the legal profession, for Lawyers mainly ply their profession before the Courts of law in the country presided over by Judicial Officers. To expect that the legal profession cannot be affected by the problem of corruption is sheer red herring.
While LAZ is mindful that there are a number of upright Judicial Officers, and other officers within the rank and file of the Judiciary. On this realization, LAZ has repeatedly declared its readiness and willingness to engage in sustained programs aimed at identifying and resolving all problems that cause delays and failure in the justice delivery system, which include corruption. LAZ is currently actively participating in the process of Judicial and Legal Reforms which will among other things recommend the best ways to address the problem of corruption in the Judiciary.
The acknowledgment of corruption made by the Acting Chief Justice must not result in total loss of confidence by the public in our Judiciary. To the contrary, it must work as the impetus for a broader stakeholder involvement to work towards restoring and even heightening public confidence in this important institution of our Nation. On its part, LAZ will remain resolute in advocating for a corrupt free Judiciary, and, in light of this acknowledgement, LAZ renews its commitment to work with the Judiciary and all other stakeholders in the justice system to tackle corruption in the Judiciary.
George Chisanga – President
LAW ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA