LAZ political crusade

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 12:20:30 +0000

 

We are shocked and alarmed that the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), in its futile and disgraceful attempt to bury the truth that it is turning itself into a ‘‘family law firm’’, has summoned three prominent citizens to appear before it for possible disciplinary action for commenting on public matters.

Since when did the political support for Nchima Nchito and Fred M’membe become a legal matter to fall under the Legal practitioners’ ambit?

Any support to the cartel is a public matter and nobody should be gagged for whatever reason from commenting on it because doing so violates our constitution which guarantees the right of expression.

LAZ of all institutions must be alive to the dictates of the constitution over matters that are of critical public interest.

Zambians want answers. It is no longer a secret that there is a linkage between Musa Mwenye, Nchima Nchito, Sashi Nchito Kateka and Eddy Mwitwa, who are linked by consanguinity and legal practice.

It is equally interesting that Musa Mwenye who publicly defended the LAZ action has not been cited in the latest act of rashness.

We have been asking the question: what was so compelling that the entire president of the association, Linda Kasonde, personally attended a  court session in which these matters arose, when at no other time in the life of the association did it associate itself so closely to a matter, not even when three judges were being persecuted.

The least the association could do was become a friend of the court. What has changed?

The LAZ  summons of its  three members to answer charges of contravening provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Practice Rules confirms our suspicion all along that the association has been hijacked by a powerful cabal of lawyers under the direction of the infamous cartel.

The issues being debated are those in the public domain and it is vindictive of the Legal Practitioners Committee or the LAZ Council to selectively focus on the comments of only three of their members.

Two of the LAZ members who have been vocal on the issue of whether or not LAZ was correct and in order to appoint a private lawyer to represent Mr Nchima Nchito in his tribulations following his involvement in the Post Newspaper (in litigation) case has been former Attorney General Musa Mwenye and the LAZ president herself, Linda Kasonde.

Mr Mwenye recently reacted to a report published in the Daily Nation attributed to lawyer Frighton Sichone who questioned LAZ position on the Nchito case when the same association refused to help him in a similar matter a few years ago.

Mr Mwenye was stung by Mr Sichone’s remarks and responded because the former Attorney General was the honorary secretary at the time Mr Sichone was rudely refused representation by LAZ.

What we find incomprehensible and unacceptable is why LAZ has not summoned Mr Mwenye to appear before its disciplinary committee for making comments exactly similar to those by Mr Sichone and the other three lawyers facing sanction by the association.

Ms Kasonde too has been making what many consider political statements which in all fairness have brought the independence and non-partisanship of the association into question. It is Ms Kasonde’s political statements which sparked the peaceful demonstration at LAZ secretariat by ruling Patriotic Front youths.

She was accused of making blatantly political statements which portrayed the ruling party in bad light but defended and glorified the actions and position of the opposition UPND.

If indeed LAZ was fair and untainted it should also take disciplinary action against Ms Kasonde for meandering away from the principles and mandate of LAZ and wallowing in party politics which have seriously compromised Zambia’s apex legal body and reduced it to a wing of an opposition political party.

Mr Mwenye, too, must face the music for defending himself and speaking as if he were the spokesperson for LAZ when he is not a member of the executive. What is good for the goose must be good for the gander.

The decision LAZ made to appoint Mr Mwenye as lawyer for Mr Nchito who entangled himself in the Post liquidation case was wrong. Mr Nchito is one of the most successful lawyers in Zambia who amassed his wealth during the Task Force on Corruption era during the tenure of President Levy Mwanawasa and has for years since then handled some of the country’s high profile litigations. He is not financially indigent by any stretch of the imagination.

Zambians were therefore truly appalled to learn that Mr Nchito, a brother to one of the top LAZ officials, was suddenly a destitute and needed to be bailed out by LAZ. This is what raised the dust and caused many citizens to try and advise LAZ to rescind its decision.

The three lawyers simply offered their opinion to a public issues, a position which they are fully entitled by the constitution, the supreme law of the land. Their view that the decision by the Linda Kasonde executive to extend legal representation to Nchima was not in the public interest was a fair comment that deserved high commendation.

The present arrogant and antagonistic attitude of LAZ and Ms Kasonde does not help the association in any way. It only speeds up the day LAZ will certainly crumble.

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