JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says by commenting on Constitutional lawyer John Sangwa’s remarks, he will be promoting “street law”.
And Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube says Sangwa is “day dreaming” by insinuating that President Edgar Lungu was illegally sworn-in.
When asked to comment on Sangwa’s remarks that President Lungu was illegally sworn in because the ConCourt did not declare him validly elected following the election petition and that he was not sworn in by the Chief Justice or Deputy Chief Justice as prescribed by the Constitution, Lubinda said he would not demean the legal fraternity by saying anything on the subject.
“Until the dissolution of Parliament ,there is no other person who has been mandated to speak authoritatively on behalf of the Judiciary except myself. As you can imagine, I am the minister responsible for Justice, I will not be persuaded to encourage street illegal practice. The legal profession is a noble profession, which is practised in defined jurisdiction. If any lawyer finds that there is a breach of any law, later on the Constitution, they are expected to do what is right and that is to petition the Constitutional Court. It is not to go on an ant hill and as Minister of Justice, I respond to such matters, I will be encouraging the practice of the law on the streets. I don’t want to comment on that otherwise I will be participating in demeaning practice of the legal fraternity,” said Lubinda.
“I have stated, I don’t want to participate in encouraging the practice of street law. If I comment, I will encourage the practice of street law. As Minister of Justice as long as I hold this position, it is my duty to make sure that I protect the sanctitude of the court and also to protect the practice of the legal profession. People have the right to express themselves in whatever manner and fashion, however, they are matters that are to be discussed only in prescribed places. Statements of legal disputes are done not on the streets, not at Diggers Newspaper! No! Settlement of legal issues is done in the courts.”
And in a separate interview, Ngulube said Sangwa was misleading the nation the way he had misled UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema.
“When a petition is dismissed, the way that election petition was dismissed it was as good as there was no petition. So where no judgement is made by the courts, it is as good as there were no proceedings. So, the failure by the courts to say that President Lungu was [validly elected] was because there was no petition before the courts having dismissed the petition. There was nothing upon which the court could have ordered. Remember that the 14 days elapsed, Hakainde was misled by John Sangwa, it was the same John Sangwa who misled HH. When we were telling them that the 14 days will apply, the same John Sangwa lied to HH that the 14 days will not be counted. So he is misleading himself and the nation,” Ngulube said.
“Hakainde did not even call a single witness, he failed to call a witness. The petition was dismissed on the 15th day. I was one of the lawyers on the panel and I can assure you that the UPND failed to call a single witness in the matter. John Sangwa continued to misled HH that ‘don’t worry, the court will extend the matter. The 14 days will not apply to us’. Even this time around John Sangwa has continued misleading Hakainde. For sure Hakainde does not want to learn a lesson. If HH learnt he could have known that John Sangwa is a wrong lawyer all together.”
Ngulube said Sangwa’s argument on President Lungu being sworn in illegally was nonsensical.
“The President was sworn in by the Chief Justice, we all saw the President being sworn in. The Chief Justice was standing there. When we say someone is being sworn in by the Chief Justice or before the Chief Justice, he expects the Chief Justice to go and get the Bible, present it to the President? Even in court the people who administer in court are not judges but the oath is taken before the judge. You don’t expect that because the document was not handed to him by the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice was not the one swore. All those he is talking about are mere nomenclature, there are nomenclature, they are not making sense. There are actually elementary laws, people should learn from second year in school of law. John Sangwa used to be a lecturer in the school of law. He taught a lot of people including myself. What he was lecturing us and what he is saying now we are now actually wondering what happened to the knowledge he was actually giving us. Because he has actually turned completely 360. What John Sangwa was saying in class and what he was saying now are not making sense,” Ngulube said.
“The law is very clear as to what is to happen during the swearing in ceremony. So he cannot wake up today and say, after the President has finished his five years that is when you say he was not duly elected. What kind of dullness is that? The President has served and has finished his five years, then you wake up and say he was not duly elected? We all recognise the President from the time he was elected. He became President elect and he has continued to serve the functions of President from that time up to now. It is the same John Sangwa who was saying the President does not hold office, he was elected but doesn’t hold office. How can he make such a comparison?”
He insisted that Sangwa was misleading himself and the country.
“He is the same John Sangwa that told the people of Zambia that the President was not eligible. He went to court and presented those arguments, the courts threw out his petition. The question that people want to know is that is John Sangwa the only person who knows the law in this country? Because he is the only lawyer who goes wrong every time. That is why he has never won a case. If he is always right, why is it that he always loses cases before different courts of law? So, all we can say is that he is misleading the nation and himself. It is him who is misleading himself. All we can say is that continue ignoring this man, he is depressed because of owing the banks too much money, losing his farm, losing his business to debts. So now he has actually gone into a frenzy where he is the only one who is day dreaming in this country, and because of owing people too much. He failed to pay, the bank grabbed his house. So he will not lead HH anywhere. So all we can say is that ignore John Sangwa, he is not himself right now,” said Ngulube.