The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has dismissed as irregular and lacking the force of law the statement by the Judiciary that the three opposition parliamentary candidates in the forthcoming by-elections cannot stand and that MMD’s Chipata Central Member of Parliament Mtolo Phiri has lost his seat.
LAZ president James Banda, in a statement made available to the Daily Nation, said that his association was deeply concerned that the judiciary had elected to interpret the law on such a serious national issues through a press release by a person other than a qualified judicial officer.
Mr. Banda said that the role of the Judiciary was to interpret the law through its judgments and rulings delivered at properly constituted tribunals as provided for by the laws of Zambia.
Mr. Banda said that it was unacceptable for a Public Relations Officer who was not a Judge to issue a statement on critical legal matters that needed serious interpretation, adding that the matter might end up in court.
“To start with LAZ is deeply concerned that the Judiciary has elected to interpret the law on such a serious national issue through a press release by a person other than a qualified Judicial Officer. The role of the Judiciary is to interpret the law through its Judgments and rulings delivered at a properly constituted tribunal as provided for by the law,” he said.
“Accordingly it is unacceptable for the Public Relations Officer to issue a statement on a matter which may well end up in Court for determination and or interpretation of their Lordships and Ladyships,” he said.
The LAZ president said that his association had been drawn to discuss the matter as a result of a statement issued by Judiciary PRO Terry Musonda an officer of the judiciary suggesting that the Supreme Court was not required to render a report under the Electoral Act, and that the decision of the Supreme Court was binding on everybody including the Electoral Commission of Zambia.
He said that the Statement by Mr. Musonda that the Supreme Court was not required to render a report under the Electoral Act was a matter which should have been left for a suitable judicial pronouncement or Judgment as it had serious implications and repercussions.
“This is so because the Electoral Act contains mandatory provisions prescribing the criterion for rendering reports to the Electoral Commission. Furthermore, the High Court and the Supreme Court are superior Courts of our Judicature. They are required to be moved by some known process before setting out to make determinations or pronouncements like the one attributed to Mr Musonda. Even where these superior Courts choose to make pronouncements on their own motion, the expectation is that the Courts will do so while sitting in their capacity as Courts of record,” he said.
He said that LAZ takes the view that the said Press Statement by the Judiciary and the interpretations in the said Press Statements were not at all binding but as well lacked the force of the law which was characteristic in a Judgment.
Mr. Banda said that LAZ wished to re-assert that it will continue to engage the Judiciary to ensure that its role in the dispensation of Justice and guiding the Nation on the matters regarding the rule of law are respected and guarded.
Mr. Musonda in a Press Statement said that every Judgment of the Supreme Court was binding on all Institutions including Electoral Commission of Zambia and the general public.