Chief Justice candidate Said Ibrahim Chitembwe says Kenyans can trust him with the leadership of the country’s third arm of Government, the Judiciary.
The High Court judge says he has a good track record in the Judiciary disclosing that he has been able to reduce backlogs in court and that statistics are there for everybody to see.
“In the Judiciary, I have been a presiding judge in all the courts that I have gone. I do work with the high and I do work with the low. And if you go to every station that I have been, there has been no problem.” He said
He disclosed that “when I was in Kakamega, the numbers were high. There were over 700 cases. I overworked myself to extent of becoming diabetic.”
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Appearing before the Judicial Service Commission’s interviewing panel as the search of a new Chief Justice officially kicked off Monday, Chitembwe described himself as a transformative leader with the wherewithal to deliver much-needed reforms at the Corridors of Justice. Having worked in the Judiciary for a period of 12 years, the judge believes that he is privileged with the know-how to ensure the institution fully delivers on its mandate to the public.
“Judiciary needs somebody who understands it first and foremost, somebody who is energetic, resourceful, and someone who can work with those within. You appreciate the energies and competencies of your colleagues, and you become the leader so that you enhance the institution.” He told the JSC
He argues that the core mandate of the Judiciary is to dispense justice even as he reiterated that he understands existing weaknesses and will be in a better position to improve operations in the institution.
“I believe if I am to be appointed as the CJ, I am not saying that I will dig a new foundation, I will build on what others have done with the sole purpose of improving the institution so that it can be what it is by its vision and mission.” He said
If appointed the CJ, Chitembwe who has an aggregate of 29 years in the legal profession, vowed not to be a leader who imposes himself as the chief or the kingpin of the institution. He insists that the position is pragmatic.
“I am not here to tell you that being Said Chitembwe, I am a charismatic leader like the likes of Napoleon who will be followed whatever they say. No. I am not a traditional leader who can inherit the position of the former CJ, but I will be a people-centered leader whereby you use the energies and experiences of those you are working with to transform the judiciary.” He said as he made a case as to why he was the best candidate to succeed former Chief Justice David Maraga.
“The idea is you work for the people. As a leader, my vision is to ensure that we do the core mandate of the institution, which is to hear cases and clear the backlog.” He added
Judge Chitembwe who has an aggregate experience of 29 years in the legal profession says most of the issues of corruption and incompetence as well as other issues wananchi have with the institution arise from the fact that cases have been piling up in court for many years.
“As much as we are hearing them but they are not getting finished. As a leader, I will provide alternative ways of clearing these cases,”
On this, he says he has had practical experiences and has exhibited the leadership skills necessary to steer the institution to success.
“I joined the NSSF in 2003 and the institution was being reformed and I was part of that transformation leadership. For the six years I was there we were able to build up the institution from a portfolio of less than Kshs.50 billion to over Kshs 100 billion by the time I was leaving.” He told Prof. Olive Mugenda-led interviewing panel
Justice Chitembwe was recruited in the judiciary in 2009. He is currently serving in the civil division of the high court in Milimani. He has worked as High Court Judge in Kakamega, Malindi, Marsabit, and Migori. He has also made visitations to Embu and Meru courts.
He is the first to be interviewed of the 10 candidates shortlisted for the position of CJ which had attracted 13 candidates.