LAW Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa says the LAZ council has legally maintained office and will continue to issue statements as no election has been held yet to change it.
And Mwitwa has joined the Human Rights Commission in calling on government and Law Enforcement Agencies to adhere to the rule of law in the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines.
Meanwhile, Mwitwa has called on Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo to desist from justifying the whipping of people found in night clubs and bars.
On Sunday, Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube, who is also a lawyer, said the statement issued by the LAZ council over the cancellation of Prime TV’s broadcasting licence was illegal.
The LAZ Council stated, Saturday, that the cancellation of Prime TV’s broadcasting licence by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) was illegal and done prematurely without following the correct channels of the law.
But Ngulube, who is also a lawyer, charged that it was illegal and misleading for any LAZ members to masquerade as Council members as the mandate of the former Council expired on April 2, 2020.
Ngulube further argued that LAZ currently had no council.
However, in an interview with News Diggers! Tuesday, Mwitwa said Ngulube’s position was totally misguided, adding that the LAZ council was legally in office and would continue issuing statements.
He said there was still three months left before the expiry of the mandatory period for the convening of the Annual General Meeting to change office bearers.
“We as the council of LAZ are in office by virtue of the fact that the LAZ rules stipulate that the change of office bearers only happens at the Annual General Meeting duly convened by the association. And that Annual General Meeting was on April 13, 2019. There has not being any other Annual General Meeting after that. The Annual General Meeting we should have held on April 4, 2020 was postponed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mwitwa said.
“The LAZ rules provide explicitly that the Annual General Meeting of the association shall be held at least nine months from the last Annual General Meeting and not more 15 months from the previous Annual General Meeting. So we are only one year into the period after the last Annual General Meeting, so there is still three months more to go before the expiry of that mandatory period for the convening of the Annual General Meeting. It is our intention as the council of LAZ to hold the Annual General Meeting within the next three months. So we are legally in office and we will continue issuing statements as the council of LAZ. There has been no election that has changed the council of LAZ, I am still president of LAZ. There has been no other person elected to replace me.”
He also wondered who would convene the Annual General Meeting for the association if there was no council in place and said it was unfortunate that Ngulube, who was also the deputy chief whip and a senior member of the association, could mislead the public.
“One wonders who will convene an Annual General Meeting for the association if there is no council in place. That doesn’t make sense. And who is going to run the affairs of the association in the meantime? Who is going to make sure that the employees are paid, the secretariat is managed and the affairs of the association are attended to? So honourable Tutwa Ngulube is misguided. It’s very unfortunate that the man holding the position of deputy chief whip of the government, and a senior member of the association, should be misleading the public. We actually condemn such statements from members. The least he could have done was actually to reach out to us and inquire to why we are still in office,” Mwitwa said.
Meanwhile, Mwitwa called on the government and Law Enforcement Agencies to adhere to the rule of law in the implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines.
He called on Lusambo to stop justifying the police’s beating of people found in bars and night clubs against guidelines given in the COVID-19 fight.
“We want to join the Human Rights Commission in calling on government, Law Enforcement Agencies to adhere to the rule of law in the implementation of the Covid-19 guidelines. We strongly condemn any unlawful measures that are being taken to enforce statutory instruments number 21 and 22 of 2020 which are the only pieces of law that have been issued so far in relation to combating Covid-19. We are not in a state of emergency, there is no curfew that has been declared. And we therefore call on, particularly, honourable Bowman Lusambo to desist from issuing alarming statements and also justifying the tendency by Law Enforcement Agencies to whip people that are found in night clubs or bars. He is not a law enforcement officer and there is no law that gives any law enforcement officer the right to mete out instant justice to anybody violating the law,” Mwitwa said.
“Not too long ago, we had incidences of mob justice in the wake of the gassing incidences. Government condemned such practices. So what is different about now, law enforcement officers whipping people that are found gathering in places instead of just displacing them? And if they have committed an offence, use the law to arrest them and let the court decide what punishment should be meted out on them. We condemn those tendencies and we join the Human Rights Commission in calling for respect for the rule of law even in this unfortunate situation that we are in.”
Mwitwa further urged citizens to adhere to the precautionary measures put in place by the government in the fight against COVID-19 such as social distancing, avoiding public gatherings, among others.