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 2010-08-05 03:26 pm Back to NEWS
'Zambia should learn from Selebi’s conviction' - Citizens Forum
 Jackie Selebi: Given 15 years in jail

Citizens' Forum executive secretary Simon Kabanda has observed that South African courts are able to perform well because the constitution in that country provides a strong separation between the Executive and the Judiciary.

Commenting on the 15-year jail term slapped on former police chief Jackie Selebi for corruption on Tuesday, Kabanda called for a strong constitution to give independence to the Zambian Judiciary.

He said if the President in Zambia did not appoint judges they would perform independently.

“I think we should learn something from the South Africa scenario that if a former police chief can be prosecuted and jailed for corruption, we can also do it. If we claim to be serious on the fight against corruption, then we should give our Judiciary independence,” Kabanda said.

“The most important thing to note is that the South African Constitution is very strong on the separation of powers. There is a clear distinction between the Executive and the Judiciary.

In our case, judges are appointed by the President and he determines their salaries. In this case, do you think the Judiciary can be independent? It’s like you are saying the judges owe it to the President.

But in the case of our colleagues in South Africa, the President does not appoint the judges. Their Constitution has provided a clear separation of powers between these two arms of government.”

Kabanda urged the law enforcement agencies to emulate their South African counterparts and work independently.
He challenged them to prove that they were impartial by treating offenders equally.

“When a case is reported, our law enforcement agencies should act fairly and timely. In Zambia, recognised if the culprit is not in good books with the state; in that case you will see them act swiftly.

But if the person involved in corruption is in good books with the government, the case will delay or it will even be ignored.

I think our law enforcement agencies should pick a leaf from their South African counterparts and act independently. If we get serious and believe in ourselves then we can catch up with our colleagues,” said Kabanda.

On Tuesday this week, a South African court sentenced former national police commissioner Selebi to 15 years in jail for corruption.

Selebi, a former president of Interpol, was convicted in July of receiving bribes from a drug dealer, Glenn Agliotti.

Convicted Agliotti paid Selebi 1.2m rand USD 6,000 to turn a blind eye to his business.

Agliotti, who gave evidence against Selebi in return for immunity on bribery charges, is himself on trial for murdering a mining tycoon.

Selebi is the most senior official appointed by the country's government to have been convicted of corruption and has already forfeited 320,722 rands USD ,800 as the proceeds of crime.

The sentence is the minimum recommended for senior police officers found guilty of corruption.

The 60-year-old Selebi was well connected in the ruling African National Congress (ANC) government.

Selebi was also a former president of the ANC Youth League, served as South Africa's representative at the UN and was a close ally of former president Thabo Mbeki.

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