PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema has directed that a working committee consisting of officials from Cabinet Office and the Judiciary be established to identify and resolve challenges in the Supreme Court for effective and efficient dispensation of justice.
He said the challenges that the Supreme Court was facing could be addressed in the short, medium and long-term and urged Chief Justice Mumba Malila and Secretary to the Cabinet Patrick Kangwa to ensure that the working group was created.
Mr Hichilema said this when he officiated at the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court under the theme: “Empowering the next Generation of Justice Leaders’ after touring the Supreme Court building and exhibition stands in Lusaka yesterday.
“What I propose to do in my speech as I sit down is to create a small team from your (Chief Justice) office, from Cabinet Office which will utilise the existing structures in the Judiciary, including advisory committees, and checklist the things that we need to do so (that) we can improve service delivery to those that put us in office, the people of Zambia.
“And that working small team does not take away powers. I want to confess, Chief Justice, one of the challenges I am having in managing this country, every time you try an initiative towards a solution, there is a perception that you are diluting the power of those who have been enjoying that so-called power for years,” President Hichilema said.
He said he found it offensive that processes in Government were valued more than outcomes.
Mr Hichilema said change could not be delivered if processes were more valued than outcomes.
“You have to upset the status quo in order to deliver change and better service to the people. So, I am proposing which measure has not been happening before as part of our celebration of 50 years.
“Small working group, carefully selected, not just driven by the big Justices in that team, but also the Registry Clerk, he or she who knows what goes on in the registry, why pages go missing,” Mr Hichilema said.
The President said he was aware of some cases that took 20 years to be disposed of and wondered what was happening with court files.
“Chief Justice, we want to confirm to you here that we will walk with you, we will walk with the Supreme Court. We understand some of the challenges, including institutional arrangements, structural arrangements that inhibit your service delivery to the constituency called 20 million Zambians,” Mr Hichilema said.
He said the Supreme Court’s registry, records and storage could be dealt with through technological changes at a lower cost thereby enhancing efficiency.
The President said further that part of the huge savings realised from buying cheaper Government vehicles and disposing of the costly Land-Cruiser VXS and from the mining investments could be channelled towards addressing the problems that the Supreme Court was grappling with.
The Judiciary could also save on money spent on booking bigger conference rooms elsewhere by building its own facility within the Supreme Court grounds.
President Hichilema said the Supreme Court had done a lot for delivery of justice in its 50 years of existence despite operating under difficult conditions sometimes.