THE acquittal of former Lusaka Province Minister Obvious Mwaliteta and four others should further absorb the judiciary from unwarranted criticism
from some sections of society.
On Tuesday, High Court judge Mwape Bowa, in a ruling on whether the five had a case to answer or not, found that there was insufficient evidence to place the accused persons on their defence.
Mr Mwaliteta, 46, a politician; Evans Mukobela, 44, a student; Macmillan Shimukonka, 33, an operations manager; Laswell Phiri, 42, a businessman; and Emmanuel Mumbi, age unknown, were jointly charged with two counts of aggravated robbery.
Justice Bowa found that there was insufficient evidence to warrant him to place the accused persons on their defence because the State had failed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt that the accused persons participated in the incident.
Mr Mwaliteta’s acquittal is one of the several cases in which the judiciary has demonstrated its independence.
Other notable judgments which have vindicated the judiciary from being accused of being influenced by the executive arm of Government include the Constitutional Court’s landmark ruling against Cabinet ministers receiving salaries long after Parliament had been dissolved.
This country has also witnessed the judiciary nullifying parliamentary seats held by Cabinet ministers and the acquittal of Chongwe member of Parliament Sylvia Masebo in her abuse of authority case.
Therefore, insinuations by some people that the judiciary is controlled by the executive is totally fallacious and, therefore, grossly unfair.
Unfair as the criticisms have been, the vibe against the Judiciary has the potential to erode any trust that members of the public have in our legal system.
Zambia has some of the most qualified, competent and impartial judges who are not prejudicial and are, therefore, not at risk of any influence.
People who have the propensity of scandalising our courts are contemptuous of the judiciary.
We should, as citizens, especially politicians, stay clear at all times from undermining public confidence in the courts.
Undermining courts interferes with the smooth administration of justice and lowers the authority of the courts.
We should at all times, irrespective of our social standing, political or social affiliations, desist from unfairly attacking the judiciary.
Of course, the people running the judiciary and those who dispense justice at all levels of courts are human beings who may err or have their own inner biases.
But in instances where judges have realised that their personal biases may impede justice, they recuse themselves. They have done this before.
As much as we need to retain public confidence in the justice system, it does not mean that the judiciary is immune to fair criticism.
Criticism is welcome but should be done in a manner devoid of personal interests and that which would strengthen the delivery of justice.
The judiciary deserves respect.