THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has charged that President Michel Sata and the Patriotic Front (PF) government are in the forefront of breaking the rule of law.
Addressing the press yesterday, LAZ president James Banda said that his association was compelled to issue the statement in the face of recent events and occurrences in the nation which were clearly indicative of a breakdown of the rule of law.
Mr. Banda said sadly enough these events and occurrences had by and large, been orchestrated by the Executive arm of Government in apparent abuse of the power and authority vested in it.
He said the open support of Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba’s conduct to threaten the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) officers by President Sata was shocking.
Mr. Banda said that reports attributed to President Sata suggesting that ACC were supposed to seek permission from him (Sata) before the commencement of corruption investigations on the two ministers, was not correct and illegal.
“LAZ wishes to reiterate that the actions of both the ACC and the Minister are inconsistent with what is expected of a well functioning institution charged with investigating matters of a serious nature such as the allegations the Honourable Ministers are facing.
We maintain that the Honourable Minister of Justice erred by using his influence in the ruling party and in the Government to intimidate the investigating officers. This situation does not in any way assist in the dispensation of justice and LAZ reiterates its call that the Ministers involved should proceed on leave to allow for a free investigation which it is hoped will exornerate them if ever they are found innocent. We equally call on the ACC to exhibit high levels of professionalism expected of them in the execution of their duties,” he said.
On President Sata’s pronouncement that permission ought to be sought from him prior to the commencement of investigations against senior PF members, Mr. Banda said that, “We wish to inform the public that no such provisions of the law exist. Even assuming that such a law by misfortune exists, LAZ wishes to state that such a state of affairs cannot be allowed to exist as it is a recipe for anarchy and is decidedly in contravention of the provisions of Section 3 of the Anti Corruption Act No 3 of 2012 by which the autonomy of the ACC is guaranteed.”
Mr. Banda urged the executive, to observe the rule of law and allow the investigative processes and procedures to reach their natural conclusions without any explicit or implied undue influence from the executive.
On the deportation and revocation of permits, Mr. Banda observed that it was being done unlawfully by those in government.
“LAZ has observed, with increasing concern, the use of the powers vested in the Minister of Home affairs seemingly to achieve ends that may not be in the wider interests of the general public. The perception that has been created by the recent spate of deportations and revocations of orders to remain inZambiais that the power to deport is being used unlawfully against persons that are not in good standing with the ruling party or its close allies or associates,” he said.
Mr. Banda said that the conduct by the PF government to deport people at will without hearing them flied directly in the teeth of natural justice, adding that such powers must be used judiciously, “It appears to us that this is not the case in respect of the recent deportations which have been widely reported in the media. This is not how we would expect Zambians to be treated should they find themselves in similar circumstances in foreign country.”
LAZ also noted that the PF government was not listening to the legal advice on various issues of governance, such as the constitution making process and the legality of the Technical Committee on the constitution.
“The LAZ has noted that despite its numerous attempts to assist the Executive with the Governance of the nation by offering its advice on matters of far reaching legal consequence the Executive has largely chosen to ignore LAZ on such matters in consequence of which the rule of law has either been jeopardized or put at serious risk. As a key stakeholder in the affairs of the State, LAZ finds the stance taken by the Executive most unfortunate. We therefore urge the Executive to take corrective action now to avoid a total breakdown in the rule of law.”