Editor's Comment

Stop malice against DPP

ZAMBIA'S Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lilian Siyuni.

TO DOUBT the autonomy of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Lillian Siyuni is failure to appreciate the independence of her office.

The DPP’s office is such an important one that it must be insulated from any form of manipulation.
It is for this reason that the DPP, like judges and other constitutional office holders, does not hold office at the pleasure of anyone. She holds that office as long as she performs according to the dictates of the office.
In other words, the DPP holds that office as long as she is not found wanting professionally.
It is disheartening to see eminent lawyers disparage the DPP in an apparent calculated move to distract her from performing her duties with honour and dignity.
It is clear that these critics are not being objective but simply driven by their own narrow agenda.
We are, however, encouraged that State Counsel Sakwiba Sikota has put the record straight.
Mr Sikota, one of the country’s top lawyers, has come to the defence of Ms Siyuni by urging people not to doubt the autonomy of her office’s decisions.
He says Commonwealth secretary-general Patricia Scotland has equally categorically stated that the DPP makes decisions on her own and in public interest.
In Mr Sikota’s respected understanding of the DPP, the current holder of that lofty office is a person with powers to carry out her duties as she deems fit in accordance with the Constitution.
That is why Mr Sikota can boldly refer to what a fellow eminent lawyer [Ms Scotland] stated concerning the DPP.
Mrs Scotland, who was recently in the country, said the DPP is a person who has powers to do things as she sees fit in line with the supreme law [Constitution].
This simply means Ms Siyuni makes decisions which are in public interest.
It justifies Ms Scotland’s confidence in the calibre of the DPP the country has.
If the Commonwealth secretary-general, a respected legal expert in her own right, would commend our DPP, then we wonder why some citizens choose to pour scorn on her.
If the Commonwealth secretary-general is not worth believing, then we wonder who the DPP’s critics will believe apart from themselves.
After all, Ms Scotland is a very high judicial officer who understands what she said.
Attacks on Ms Siyuni by some sections of society alleging that she gets instructions from political offices are not only unfair but are designed to undermine her authority.
The number of nolle prosequi she has entered in some court cases, especially those of political nature, do not in any way suggest political interference in her work.
After all, the DPP is only answerable to the Constitution and herself.
Insinuations by some people that she receives instructions from top offices are only meant to divert her attention from real issues.
No amount of malice should distract the DPP’s attention.
She has better and more important national and international matters to attend to.

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