Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) aspriring president Mutumu Nzala Mwape says she feels encouraged to stand against former Attorney General Abyudi Shonga.

And Mwape says if elected, she will ensure that the Association is inclusive in its decision-making process.

In an interview, the LAZ presidential hopeful expressed happiness that she was standing against a prominent lawyer enjoying the status of State Counsel.

“I feel encouraged because for the first time the very fact that we have a S.C. Counsel involved in the race and a younger advocate it has sparked some interest. I didn’t know that he would be standing and even after knowing it was an encouragement because winning this race will give me much more legitimacy. Even if things were not able to go well, I have stood against an eminent lawyer. So, getting that win will be much sweeter,” said Mwape.

Mwape said she wanted to ensure that LAZ remained a relevant Association by ensuring it was inclusive.

Next month, LAZ is set to usher in new office bearers into its Executive Council, including the presidency position, which is currently being held by outgoing president Eddie Mwitwa.

“My vision for the Association is one of creating an inclusive Association. It is one that is going to motivate participation at all levels. Junior lawyers, middle lawyers and senior lawyers. Female participation, more especially, because I have begun to notice that we are in the majority. I intend to craft a mechanism that encourages participation at our level specifically designed to accommodate women with our special needs. I also intend to ensure that some of our regulations that have been there that were made to specifically to address the scenario of law at practice at that time are reviewed; there has been so many changes: technological changes, changes in the make-up of the Association itself. We have to find a way to accommodate this new stream of advocates that are coming in because right now, we are failing to adapt and make it relevant for them to participate in the Association past them making contributions in terms of the subscription (fees) that they have to pay for their practicing license,” Mwape said.

“…Because you can’t practice law in Zambia without a certificate. We want to make an Association that will be more relevant past just collecting money for a practicing certificate. Something I experienced was the fact that there was a growing apathy among our colleagues in terms of participation in affairs of LAZ. When I started, we would have a number of meetings, maybe you would have a number of three to four people and then towards, especially last year, and beginning of this year, you will find that we arrange for a meeting on a WhatsApp group, there are people who are not able to find time to come to the physical meeting. And for some of them, they thought that even if they didn’t meet some of the issues discussed in the committee did not necessarily meet their needs. And they didn’t think it will be something real or tangible after their participation in the committee. So, I told myself that this is something that needs to be worked on.”

She pledged to revamp the Association and have committees that would look at pertinent matters of national interest.

“One of the ways that I intend to plan and work for the LAZ presidency is that I am preemptive in the way I address certain areas of interest. We will have committees that will look at pertinent matters and have guidelines for them. And when we are required to give a legal opinion on something that is occurring, I will have the full involvement of the Association. The general concern within our circles as an Association is that people have not been included in making the decisions that the Association has said. I will ensure there is full involvement of the members so much that when a statement is churned out, it is not criticised to say it is affiliated with one party or another because it will be the position of Association,” Mwape explained.

Mwape has been practicing law for the past 12 years and was called to the Bar in February, 2008.

She started her professional legal work in government and used to work for the Attorney General’s chambers before proceeding to start working for the Zambia Army.

Mwape is currently legal counsel for the Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency (ZCSA), a statutory body that regulates products to ensure public health and safety.