Chief Government Spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga says if LAZ dissected President Edgar Lungu’s remarks, they would discover that he did not threaten Constitutional Court judges.

Yesterday, LAZ condemned President Lungu’s warning to ConCourt judges that there would be chaos in the country if they disqualified him from standing in 2021, asking him to retract his words.

But in a statement later in the day, Mulenga, who is also Minister of Information stated that it was disappointing for the legal body to base their statements on stories from the media which did not “seek clarification from their source”.

“Government is dismayed by sentiments from the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) which criticise His Excellency the President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu for the statement he made on the Judiciary. LAZ claim the statement “appears” to threaten the Judiciary against making any adverse ruling against President Lungu in the impending judgment on whether President Lungu is eligible to stand in 2021. LAZ further purports to call on the President to retract the statement he made on Thursday at Solwezi Airport. Government is concerned that a respected professional body could base their statement on stories being peddled by the media without clarification with the source,” Mulenga stated.

“In their statement, LAZ have not made any specific reference to a particular part of the President’s speech to show that the President indeed threatened the Judiciary. This is not a coincidence. It is simply because there is no such statement that appears to threaten the Judiciary. Article 122(4) of the Republican Constitution, empowers the President or indeed any person or a person holding a public office to protect the independence of the judiciary so that it does not act on the basis of adverse external influences. It provides as follows: 122(4) a person and a person holding a public office shall protect the independence, dignity and effectiveness of the judiciary.”

She cautioned LAZ not to be embroiled in day to day politicking.

“In the issue at hand, the President provided caution to the judges to act independently with dignity and effectiveness in the manner they discharged their duties. This is evident even in the LAZ statement when they referred to a portion of the speech where the President called on the judiciary to act without fear or favour. It is, therefore, absurd that while LAZ acknowledge the President’s call on the judiciary to act without fear or favour, in the same breath they purport that the President ‘appeared”’ to threaten the judiciary. Government calls upon LAZ to be the voice of jurisprudence and not to be embroiled in the day-to-day politicking,” Mulenga stated.

She also stated that perhaps it was LAZ that needed to retract its statement.

“Government further challenges LAZ to dissect the President’s address line by line and come to a fair conclusion on the matter. LAZ were being speculative in their attack on the President and that does not resonate well with their standing as a professional body. Perhaps it is LAZ who should retract their statement and contextualize the address by the President. Government agrees that the President has a duty to protect the independence, dignity and effectiveness of the judiciary in accordance with Article 122(4), and President Lungu, who is a lawyer, knows this and has never and will never perform acts that would go against this vow,” stated Mulenga.

“The Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature are all expected to respect, uphold and safeguard the Republican Constitution; promote democracy, enhance the unity of the nation; promote and protect the rights and freedoms of a person; and uphold the rule of law in accordance with Article 91 of the Constitution of Zambia.”