LAZ disappointed with the Judiciary’s decision

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THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says it is disappointed with the Judiciary’s decision to state that no report needs to be presented to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) for them to act on graft pronouncements by the Supreme Court.
LAZ president James Banda said the association is also disappointed at the Judiciary department’s statement that the decision of the Supreme Court is binding on all, including the ECZ.
But Government said the LAZ is being “extremely selective” in choosing which matters to comment on, when and how to comment, according to Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu.
“Where has LAZ been since the nation and the media started discussing this election corruption matter?”  Mr Lungu asked. “They have been conspicuously quiet until the Judiciary showed leadership and direction. Suddenly they are awake from their slumber. LAZ is being selective, insincere and pedantic.”
In a statement issued in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Banda said it is unacceptable for Judiciary public relations officer Terry Musonda to issue a statement on a matter “which may well end up in court for determination and/or interpretation”.
Mr Banda said, “To start with, LAZ is deeply concerned that the Judiciary has elected to interpret the law on such a serious national issue through a press release by a person other than a qualified judicial officer.”
But Mr Lungu said: “All this could have been avoided had LAZ not shied away from the debate…Parliament wants to fight corruption through its legislators. Surely this is a decision LAZ must back and not condemn.”
Mr Banda, however, insists: “The role of the Judiciary is to interpret the law through its judgments and rulings delivered at a properly constituted tribunal, as provided for by the law.”
Without discussing the corruption that led to the national debate at any point, Mr Banda said the Judiciary’s statement “is a matter which should have been left for a suitable judicial pronouncement or judgment as it has serious implications and repercussions”.
He said the Electoral Act contains mandatory provisions prescribing the criterion for rendering reports to the Electoral Commission and that the High Court and the Supreme Court are superior courts which are required to be moved by some known process before making determinations or pronouncements like the one attributed to Mr Musonda.
“For these reasons, LAZ takes the view that the said statement by the Judiciary and the interpretations in the statements are not at all binding as they lack the force of the law which is characteristic in a judgment,” Mr Banda said.
But Mr Lungu said the LAZ position is a reflection of an association in denial, “an association that goes to sleep when the heat is on government and only wakes up when the opposition are losing grip. We require fairness and not bias in LAZ interpretations if they are to be respected”.
LAZ said it would continue to engage the Judiciary to ensure that its role in the dispensation of justice and guiding the nation on matters regarding the rule of law are respected and guarded.
On Thursday, Mr Musonda said in a statement that the decision of the Supreme Court on any reported nullification must take precedence over any procedure and bar those whose polls were nullified due to evidence of corruption without having to necessarily wait for any report from the registrar of the High Court.

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