IF the lawyers want to form a political party, let them go ahead and form a political party; let them not abuse the profession because it’s a noble one, President Edgar Lungu has told the Law Association of Zambia.
The Law Association of Zambia yesterday cautioned the government against abusing the emergency powers under the threatened state of emergency.
LAZ president Linda Kasonde said at a media briefing that any exercise of executive power under Article 31 of the Constitution must be done reasonably.
On July 5 after the burning of Lusaka City Market, President Lungu invoked Article 31 of the Constitution and the Preservation of Public Security Act Cap 112 of the Laws of Zambia that will see the police gaining more powers in enforcing the law, among them, having powers to stop, search or detain individuals or motor vehicles without a warrant.
The decision to declare the threatened state of public emergency was made a day after he warned on his return from Ethiopia that human rights would be taken away from Zambians and that the people should bear with him if he turns into a dictator for once.
With the threatened state of emergency in force in, President Lungu, in line with Cap 112 of the Laws of Zambia, can now come up with regulations he deems fit as to decree, among others, prohibition of the publication and dissemination of matters he could consider prejudicial to public security, and, to the extent necessary for that purpose, for the regulation and control of the production, publishing, sale, supply distribution and possession of publications; prohibition, restriction and control of assemblies; prohibition, restriction and control of residence, movement and transport of persons, the possession, acquisition, use and transport of movable property, and the entry to, egress from, occupation and use of immovable property.
But Kasonde, who earlier indicated that President Lungu had powers to invoke Article 31 of the Constitution, said the Head of State shouldn’t have rushed to declare the threatened state of emergency.
She also wondered whether or not a quorum was formed at the National Assembly when the declaration by the Head of State was approved considering that the majority of opposition members of parliament were serving a 30-day suspension slapped on them by Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini for missing President Lungu’s state of the nation address on March 17.
In reaction, President Lungu this morning told journalists at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport before departure for Swaziland that LAZ should form a political party and then take him on.
Where are the lawyers? Where are the lawyers in this country? If the lawyers want to form a political party, let them go ahead and form a political party – let them not abuse the profession [because] it’s a noble one! For me, I challenge them to form a political party; but let them not abuse the profession, okay!
said President Lungu.
If they want to take me on, on that one they can take me on [because] there is so much politics in the Law Association of Zambia. If they (LAZ) want to form a political party, let them go ahead but to abuse a noble profession like the law profession where I belong, it’s unacceptable! Bye bye.
During the briefing, Kasonde further clarified that this threatened state of public emergency could not extend beyond three months as there was no power of extension under Article 31.
“We think the executive should have been reluctant to invoke Article 31, despite such power being given to the President under the Constitution. [Further], we note anxieties regarding how long the declaration of threatened emergency can last. This, in our view, cannot extend beyond three months as there is no power of extension under Article 31 as distinct from powers to extend that are available under Article 30,” said Kasonde.