LAZ does not mean well – govt spokesperson

Information Minister Kampamba Mulenga in an interview with News Diggers! at her office in Lusaka. Picture by Tenson Mkhala

Chief government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga has accused the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) of spreading seeds of discontent and doubts in the minds of citizens on the legality of the Threatened State of Emergency.

And Mulenga says LAZ members must stick to their mandates and not involve themselves in issues such as national security, which they are not competent in.

This was contained in a press statement issued yesterday, after LAZ president Linda Kasonde held a press briefing to explain the legality and powers around Article 31, which President Edgar Lungu invoked.

“As Government, we are saddened that LAZ has proceeded to sow seeds of discontent and doubts in the minds of Zambians by making feeble statements on the question of the quorum that approved the action in the Parliament on the pretext that this would be subjudice. As an association of lawyers, LAZ would have conducted a search to establish whether indeed there is a matter before any court to determine whether a quorum was formed or not as opposed to relying on social media,” Mulenga charged.

“It is clear that this statement was not made in good faith and is merely calculated to cause doubts in the minds of the people. It is important for LAZ to realize that this matter is important and needs to be approached with the seriousness it deserves. We challenge LAZ to be sincere and professional as opposed to peddling narrow pedestrian views on important national issues such as this one. Such an approach leaves much to be desired and may act as confirmation that the LAZ does not mean well.”

She said government had the duty to safeguard the country’s peace and regretted that LAZ was questioning the circumstances under which President Lungu invoked Article 31.

“It is important that institutions such as LAZ stick to their mandates and not involve themselves in issues they may not have the necessary competences, such as security. If the circumstances leading to the invocation of the said article do not warrant the action taken as suggested by LAZ, Government has cause to worry. Government has a responsibility to safeguard the country’s peace and security and we are convinced that the measures we have taken are appropriate and in the interest of every Zambian. As Government we are aware that LAZ’s mandate essentially deals with interpretation of the law and as such one would have expected that the statement would have ended at enlightening the public on the meaning of such an undertaking by Government,” Mulenga said.

“It is disappointing and shocking that an organisation like LAZ can question the circumstances leading to the invocation of Article 31 yet the reasons were given by the President in his address to the nation. If LAZ doubts the reasons advanced by the Republican President, they should have taken the matter to court as opposed to bringing doubts in the minds of many innocent Zambians by saying the reasons would be known when the matter goes to court. Further, it is disheartening that LAZ has also gone ahead to question the application of Preservation of Public Security Act (PPA) to the current situation of a Threatened State of Emergency. If indeed LAZ does not believe that the PPA applies to Article 31, they should have challenged the matter in court.”

And the Information Minister, however, thanked LAZ for confirming that it was within President Lungu powers to invoke Article 31.

“Government welcomes the support by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) which has stated that His Excellency the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu was within his constitutional powers to invoke Article 31 of the constitution of the Republic of Zambia. The association, through its president Linda Kasonde, has also further explained that the procedure of issuing the proclamation in the Gazette was done in accordance with the law,” said Mulenga.

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