Law Association of Zambia president Linda Kasonde has called on newly graduated advocates to fight for the rule of law and good governance with professionalism in order to reverse the polarized state of affairs in Africa.
Speaking at the admission ceremony of lawyers at the Supreme Court in Lusaka today, Kasonde observed that the African continent was associated with massive corruption, social and political instability, rigged elections, and dictatorship among others, as cited by South African Chief Justice Mogoeng.
“Lawyers do not operate in a vacuum. We are a part of the society we live in and we must contribute positively to that society. As South African Chief Justice Mogoeg once said: ‘Africa is generally associated with massive corruption, social and political instability, rigged elections, dictatorship, abuse of human rights with near impunity, rampant non-observance of the rule of law, coup d’etat, sickness and disease, high mortality, abject poverty, economic underdevelopment, dependency and in general, the paucity of accountability, responsiveness and good governance . Yet economists say that the United Kingdom and Switzerland, which do not have the mineral and natural resources we have, with a very small population and a small piece of land, are each richer than all African countries put together. We must therefore play our part to reverse this unacceptable state of affairs’ We must fight for the rule of law and good governance with the tools of our trade,” Kasonde said.
She also urged the newly admitted advocates not to allow abuses of power, constitutionalism and the rule of law to take a foothold in the country.
“The mandate of LAZ under section 4 of the Laws of Zambia Act is to promote and protect the rule of law, constitutionalism, good governance and social justice in line with our motto: justice, honour and integrity. We hope that all of you will do your part to uphold those values in whatever way you can. As former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are,” she said.
“We must not allow abuses of power, constitutionalism and the rule of law to take a foothold in our country. The future of our democracy and our economic prosperity depend on it. Our country is suffering from the scourge of division and hatred. That path leads to destruction. As lawyers we are trained to argue different sides of the law dispassionately; we are not afraid of ideas that challenge us and our positions.”
Kasonde further encouraged the graduates to specialize in Constitutional law.
“Whilst I implore you to get as much experience in different aspects of the law in the first few years of your career, know that contrary to popular belief lawyers, including State Council, are not jacks of all trades. Once you have firmly established what areas of the law you are most interested, I would urge all of you to specialize in that field of the law,” said Kasonde.
“Following the substantial amendments to our Constitution, I would particulary encourage you to specialize in Constitutional law. All advocates take an oath to uphold the Constitution as you have today. The constitution is the bedrock of our profession and the foundation of our democracy. The future of the rule of law and constitutionalism in this country rests on your shoulders whether from the Bar or from the Bench. You are the ones we are waiting for.”