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THE integrity of the court should be protected by ensuring that anyone who casts doubt on its sanctity is made to substantiate their claims and not mere rhetoric, says former aspiring Patriotic Front candidate for Kanyama constituency, Chrisantius Changwereza.

Mr Changwereza said that the growing trend by politicians to drag the judiciary in their battles as a way of gaining political mileage was worrying.

He was reacting to United Party for National Development (UPND) president, Hakainde Hichilema’s claims that some Constitutional Court judges were corrupt and working under duress from the republican President.

Mr Changwereza reiterated that the Constitutional Court deserved utmost respect and that it was wrong for Mr Hichilema to cast aspersions on the learned judges unless he was prepared to substantiate his allegations.

“Let the UPND leader prove his allegations. He must be allowed to produce evidence in respect of all allegations. There is a worrying trend of politicians wanting to drag the judiciary in their battles as a way of gaining political mileage,” he said.

Mr Changwereza said the judiciary was an independent arm of government that deserved the respect of all Zambians.

He said the judiciary was expected to operate independently without unnecessary interference from anyone.

Mr Changwereza observed that many people were free today because the judiciary exercised its independence.

He said fair and impartial justice required that judges act without regard to the identity of parties or their attorneys and the judge’s own interest or likely criticism.

“The allegations by Mr Hichilema accusing judges of being corrupt raises significant ethical red flags. It raises serious questions of impartiality as the UPND leaders’ statement would mean, or can be understood to mean in its ordinary word that the judges conducted themselves in an unethical behaviour,” said Mr Changwereza. Mr Changwereza warned that Mr Hichilema’s statement risked undermining the credibility of the judges in question if left unchecked as people would lose confidence in the judiciary.

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