Hon. Mrs. Justice Irene Chirwa Mambilima was Zambia’s first female Chief Justice. She was appointed Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia on 26th February, 2015. Justice Mambilima holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Zambia and a Master of Laws degree from the University of London. She was admitted to the bar in 1977.
Prior to her appointment as Chief Justice, Justice Mambilima served as Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of Zambia from 2008 to 2015. Justice Mambilima has served in various position in the Judiciary since she first joined as a Commissioner of the High Court in 1985. She served as a Judge of the High Court from 1989 to 2002. Justice Mambilima was appointed Judge-in-Charge of the Lusaka High Court in 1996 and subsequently, Judge-in-Charge of the High Court Commercial List in 2000. Later in 2000, she was appointed to act as Judge of the Supreme Court and was ratified in 2002.
Justice Mambilima has served as a Judge in another jurisdiction. In 2003, she served as Sessional Judge of the Supreme Court of the Gambia.
Justice Mambilima twice served as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) between 2005 and 2015. During her time as Chairperson of ECZ, she presided over the 2006 and 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections and the 2015 presidential by-election. From 1994 to 1996, Justice Mambilima served as a member of ECZ. Justice Mambilima has participated in various election observer missions in Mozambique, Kenya, Seychelles and she led the EISA Election Observation Mission to the presidential elections in Liberia.
Before she joined the bench, Justice Mambilima served in various capacities in the government including as a State Advocate and a Senior State Advocate under the Attorney General’s Chambers from 1977 to 1984 and as the Director of the then Legal Aid department in the then Ministry of Legal Affairs now the Ministry of Justice.
Justice Mambilima is the Chairperson of the Zambian Council of Law Reporting, a statutory body established under Chapter 46 of the Laws of Zambia. She is a Board Member on the Child Fund Zambia Board and previously served on the Advisory Board for Women in Law Southern Africa (WILSA).
She has attended various seminars, conferences and trainings in election management, alternative dispute resolution, gender and democracy and Judicial Seminars.
Justice Mambilima is a member of a number of professional associations, including the Zambia Association of Women Judges, the International Association of Women Judges and the Southern African Chief Justices Forum. She once served as the President of the Zambia Association of Women Judges having been elected in 2011.