LAZ defends Chibesakunda

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THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says allegations by opposition leaders that acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda and the Patriotic Front (PF) are engineering the nullification of parliamentary seats are disheartening and off the mark.
The association has, however, insisted that Justice Chibesakunda’s continued stay at the helm of the Judiciary has generated some discomfort from various stakeholders.
LAZ president James Banda says the organisation is concerned that in the process of venting their anger for the loss of parliamentary seats which were petitioned by the PF, opposition leaders have used constitutional arguments espoused by LAZ as justification to personally attack Justice Chibesakunda.
Mr Banda said in a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday that the open personal attacks on Justice Chibesakunda and the Judiciary are “a direct affront to the independence of the Judiciary which all well-meaning citizens should condemn”.
“The suggestion that the petitions that resulted in the nullification of some parliamentary seats have been engineered by the ruling party and Justice Chibesakunda are disheartening and off the mark, considering the number of judges in the Supreme Court and the mechanism they employ to decide matters,” he said.
Mr Banda said LAZ is not suggesting that citizens should not comment on the substance of judgements if they disagree with them.
“We have to emphasise that while criticism of the decisions of the courts is permissible, personal attacks on the Judiciary for judgements they write are not,” he said.
Mr Banda said LAZ will always protect judicial officers to develop a thriving democracy in the country nourished by a judiciary which is both independent and accountable.
He said citizens should be aware that judicial officers are unable to protect and defend themselves from public attacks because of the nature of their appointment, training, and orientation.
Mr Banda said citizens should jealously guard the independence of the judiciary, by avoiding commentary that personally attacks judicial officers.
Mr Banda also raised concern regarding the PF grassroots’ recent criticism of the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ)  which he described as “unfortunate”.
Mr Banda said the ECZ should not be faulted for acting within the law and in an independent and impartial manner, in ensuring free and fair elections.
Mr Banda also raised “legal” questions around the appointment of three chiefs from Muchinga Province to the House of Chiefs, which he said could be“illegal and unconstitutional”.
Mr Banda said Article 132 of the constitution states that the House of Chiefs shall consist of 27 chiefs and members of the House of Chiefs will consist of three chiefs elected by traditional leaders from each of the nine provinces.

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