Patriotic Front deputy chief whip Tutwa Ngulube says the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) has no jurisdiction to discuss matters affecting Zambia because this country is a sovereign state which administers its own affairs.

Reacting to CLA’s warning that the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019 had capacity to weaken the rule of law in Zambia if government insisted on implementing it, Ngulube challenged the lawyers’ body to justify its claims with substantive arguments.

Ngulube said it would have been helpful if CLA had given a legal analysis for its assertion that implementing the Bill in question would vest too much powers in the executive.

“The problem I have seen with such statements is that they are not well researched statements, they lack coordination and they lack details. You see, as far as we are concerned, there can be no way Parliament can lose its powers because the power to make laws lies with Parliament. Even the power to pass this same Constitution, it lies with Parliament. Then also, Zambia is a sovereign State which administers its own affairs. So the Commonwealth Lawyers Association should have given a much detailed explanation as to how this Constitutional Amendment Bill would undermine the rule of law in this country because to just make a sweeping statement like that it’s more dangerous than misleading the entire world,” Ngulube said.

Ngulube charged that CLA had no jurisdiction to discuss matters affecting Zambia.

“As far as we understand them ourselves, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association are a body of lawyers who have no jurisdiction or capacity to discuss matters affecting Zambia. The Commonwealth Lawyers Association has no sovereignty, it’s a club – just a club, it’s got no sovereign backbone upon which it can even stand. So my advice to them is that since it’s a body of lawyers, they should have given us a legal situation or a legal analysis of how such kind of a Bill would undermine the rule of law in Zambia. For example; matters to do with the President’s power to divide Provinces. They would have been very helpful if they had given a legal analysis as opposed to just making a sweeping statement like that. There should have been some legal analysis, for example they should have analysed this clause and this clause and then they should have looked at the entire Constitution because just to make a statement like the one they made is more dangerous to the public than we think the situation could be,” Ngulube said.

Meanwhile, Ngulube said the Commonwealth Lawyers Association was not adding any value to Zambian lawyers apart from charging them subscription fees.

“We have quite a number of Zambian lawyers there also but they are very few, less than 100 maybe. Because this is just an organisation with lawyers from former Commonwealth countries. But in Zambia, we have the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), so there are very few lawyers who belong to the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and it actually adds no value to most of the lawyers. Apart from just getting subscription from us, it does not have any meaning. So that’s why very few lawyers belong to it. So we are urging them to be factual and also to make sure that in their own analysis, they should show how the implementation of the Bill is going to affect the rule of law. Otherwise, what they are doing now is just like a doctor saying ‘this will kill you’ without explaining how,” said Ngulube.