IT is the temerity that is both shocking and astounding.
The egregious attack on the Presidency and Parliament by the Law Association of Zambia is in all respects a recipe for anarchy.
It is not so much the substance of the attack as the impunity and recklessness abandon with which some learned men and women have chosen to express their political inclination, without seeking consensus within the Association.
We have come to understand that a meeting of the general membership held at Lusaka’s Intercontinental Hotel resolved to study the matter before reconstitution to make a determination of the way forward.
This has not been the case and understandably the exercise has been opened to speculation and interpretation.
It is a regrettable development because membership organisations must be driven by consensus. The precipitate action must be condemned for being intemperate, demeaning and a deliberate exercise in undermining the rule of law – by inference.
Firstly the two institutions under attack are the supreme arms of Governance and statecraft whose existence is clearly defined in the constitution of Zambia, the supreme law of the land.
The constitution clearly states that the President will not be amenable to civil or criminal proceedings. In essence, proceedings shall not be instituted or continued against the person holding the office of President or performing the functions of that office.
In the same vein, the constitution reposes the power to legislate to Parliament to the exclusion of any other body or institution.
Article 62 of the constitution of Zambia states that the legislative authority of the Republic is vested in and exercised by Parliament.
This power is exercised through bills passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President.
In 2008 the Supreme Court had occasion to deal with LAZ in a similar case when it challenged the authority of the President over a constitutional matter (SCZ No.3 of 2008).
The court noted then:
“We also take judicial notice that the issues raised in the petition are the very issues which will be discussed in the National Constitutional Conference established under the National Constitutional Conference Act.”
The court took full cognizance of the legislative procedures precedent to enactment of laws, a procedure in which the President assents to a resolution from the house, passed as a bill that has been fully debated by the appropriate legislative bodies.
This matter should have been fully discussed by the members before being taken to the courts of law.
It is not too late for LAZ to withdraw the action and afford members an opportunity to discuss the various issues involved to reach consensus. The nature of membership organisations demand exhaustive consultation which has not been done in this matter.
If the matter is not withdrawn, the general membership must seek to be heard by whatever means.
It has been said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
But in this case, we call on senior lawyers to stand tall and bring sanity to LAZ by ensuring that its actions uphold the law of the land.