THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says it is deeply concerned with the attacks on the Judiciary attributed to PF Lusaka Province chairperson Paul Moonga.
In a statement, Wednesday, LAZ honorary secretary Sokwani Peter Chilembo said Moonga’s remarks were not only unfortunate and detrimental but had the potential to intimidate the Judiciary and undermine its independence.
“The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is deeply concerned with the attacks on the Judiciary attributed to Mr Paul Moonga who is the Patriotic Front (PF) Lusaka Province chairperson, during a press briefing at the PF Secretariat on Friday, 5th March, 2021. Mr Moonga’s sentiments have since gone viral, a situation we feel needs redress. The Judiciary, being a creation of the Constitution, is established under Part VIII of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) No 2 of 2016 Article 122 (1) provides that, ‘In the exercise of the judicial authority, the Judiciary shall be subject only to this Constitution and the law and not be subject to the control or direction of a person or an authority’,” Chilembo said.
“While we subscribe to the freedom of expression and principles of accountability which entail that any person and institution, including the Judiciary can be subject of criticism, we are particularly perturbed by the sentiments from a senior member of the ruling party as the sentiments suggest that the Judiciary is subject to the control and direction of other people, contrary to the constitutional provision highlighted above. In particular, the sentiments that the Judges are being watched by the ruling party, and the suggestion that some Constitutional Court Judges are susceptible to corruption so as to nullify the candidature of the President should a petition be filed, are not only unfortunate and detrimental to constitutionalism, but also have the potential to intimidate the Judiciary and undermine its independence.”
Chilembo said LAZ would engage the PF to register their concern adding that if such utterances were left unchecked the country may face a situation where institutions risk being cowed into taking extraneous considerations in the discharge of their statutory mandates.
“LAZ is duty bound to promote the Rule of Law under section 4 of the Law Association of Zambia Act, Chapter 31 of the Laws of Zambia. It is in furtherance of that mandate that LAZ strongly condemns unwarranted attacks on public institutions which are established to work independently, in furtherance of national order and governance. If such public utterances are left unchecked or requisite reprimand not effected, the country may face a quagmire where institutions risk being cowed into taking extraneous considerations in the discharge of their statutory mandates,” said Chilembo.
“We therefore, call upon the PF leadership to prevail over its members to refrain from issuing unwarranted attacks against the Judiciary or indeed any other public institutions as these institutions should not be politicised in the name of serving personal interests. LAZ will engage the ruling party to register its disquiet. We also urge the Judiciary to continue discharging its mandate without fear or favour in tandem with its constitutional mandate.”