Interviews for next CJ kick off with Justice Said Juma Chitembwe
Interviews for Kenya’s next Chief Justice kicked off on Monday with the first candidate Justice Said Juma Chitembwe taking to the floor.
He is among 10 candidates who are being considered for the position after three initial applicants were dropped.
The remaining nine are Prof. Patricia Mbote; Lady Justice Martha Koome; Justice Marete Njagi; Philip Murgor; Justice Matthews Nduma; Lawyer Fredrick Ngatia; Justice William Ouko (Court of Appeal President), Dr. Wekesa Moni and Ms. Alice Yano.
Each candidate has been allocated one slot per day in the interviews that will run until April 23.
On Monday, Justice Chitembwe began by giving a summary of his tenure at the Judiciary.
“I have been in this judiciary for 12 years… I have seen it from where we didn’t even have a pen to write… The judiciary needs someone who understands it and who is energetic, resourceful and one who can work with those who are within so that you can enhance the institution. I know where we have done it well and where we can do better and improve the institution. I’ll build on what others have done with the sole purpose of improving the institution,” he said.
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Justice Chitembwe: When I write my judgement, I am not considering what the judge of appeal will say. I am ready to be criticized. In the said case, the lady (child) said she went to the man’s house, had sex with him & went home, she was not defiled pic.twitter.com/qfhFR6iX0K
Justice Chitembwe: I am not advocating for reduction of consent. As judge you have to analyse what transpired. Age of consent is not an issue. Martin Charo’s case is one where he was dating the girl & brothers knew where the sister was pic.twitter.com/laxhSJ9CsV
The panel then asked him what he sees as the role of the Chief Justice to which he replied: “The role of CJ is quite wide… It’s not something you can say is a simple job but it is provided for in the Constitution.”
Panel: What you have done to support your position?
Justice Chitembwe: Leadership has been defined in many ways… I’m not here to tell you I am a traditional .. charismatic leader … I will be a people centered leader whereby you use the experience and energy if those you are working with to transform the institution.
I have been a presiding judge… I do work with the low… I’ve worked with everybody and I have been able to reduce the backlog and when I was in Kakamega, I overworked myself to a extension of being diabetic but I work for the people.
My vision is to hear cases and clear the backlog… Issues of corruption are because cases are piling in court and so we have to come up with alternative way to. Clear this case. Core problem is the typing of proceedings. It is my idea appeals should be heard within three or four months.
It’s more easy to work in outer stations than in Nairobi, so I’d like to transform this situation. The position is challenging because it has so many aspects .. There are many challenges… Challenges of dealing with members of the public. Way of overcoming the challenges? Engage the arms of executive. Consultation.
Panel: That one thing that as a CJ you are coming to fix?
Chitembwe: I know the composition of the CJ… I’m not seeing any problem that needs to be fixed. I’ll enhance the collegiality…. I’ve not been there to see whether there are in-house fights… I will sit with them and see how to clear backlog.
Justice Mohamed Warsame: In your view you think there’s nothing to be solved? Both interns of integrity… delayed judgement?
Chitembwe: I have been reading what the Supreme Court is doing… The problem is that of perception….
Warsame: There are problems of delayed judgement… failure to get hearing dates… How do you intend to do it? What’s your solution? And don’t tell me about numbers… I want tangible steps.
Chitembwe: Set the parameters… I will follow up what [CJ David] Maraga did… I will even tell someone to take leave to go and write judgement. We have ediary… the numbers will always be there.
Panel: On the workings of the supreme court… on the Martha Karua case… do you agree with that decision of the SC?
Chitembwe: I have not interacted with that case… I can say I do agree.
Panel: Tell us about the timelines…
Chitembwe: It’s provided for the in constitution and that time does not stop running… It’s six months.
Panel: and on 41 judges… who are yet to be appointed?
Chitembwe: The JSC played a role in creating a problem… You were here, you saw judges being promoted… Why couldn’t you have a system of promoting? How can we employ 41 judges? Where are the resources? I will approach the executive. I will come up with a catalogue….of those orders that have not been obeyed. The only solution is negotiations.
The interviews continue on Tuesday.