Speech by his Excellency Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu president of the republic of Zambia on the occasion of the gala dinner at the law association of Zambia’s 2015 annual general meeting held at the Zambezi sun hotel Livingstone•
President of the law association of Zambia,
- Minister of justice, hon. Ngosa Simbyakula
- State counsels in the house• provincial minister
- Government officials
- Ladies and gentlemen: distingushed ladies and gentlemen
I was heartened by the invitation from the law association of Zambia to grace this year’s gala dinner as guest of honour, particularly that I am coming to the occasion wearing another hat in addition to that of a this noble association and profession.
Allow me to congratulate the association on the holding of another successful annual law conference and annual general meeting.
I am pleased to learn that the just ended law conference was used as an opportunity to discuss pertinent issues affecting not only the legal profession but also the nation as a whole. Allow me to add my voice to the issues that were discussed over the last two days and to allude to one or two other pertinent issues that you may not have had time to deliberate on.
Ladies and gentlemen: I do believe your selected theme for this year’s law conference: Zambia at 50 – independence of the judiciary and challenges of regulating the legal profession, was timely and I pray the conference came up with concrete resolutions that will help us deal with some of the problems that have plagued both our judiciary and the legal profession.
Indeed the judiciary has suffered attacks at the hands of some members of the public vis-à-vis its independence and its ability to deliver on its primary mandate as an arbiter, and as a defender and protector of individual rights and freedoms.
It is the hope of my government that the changes we have started to institute within the judiciary and the recommendations that will come out of the ongoing legal and judicial reforms will galvanise positive action and change in relation to the functioning of the judiciary.
Let me reassure you that my government shall not tolerate unwarranted attacks on the judiciary that seek to undermine the desired legitimacy this important arm of government must enjoy.
Let me further assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that government is committed to continue to move forward with the constitutional review process as outlined in the roadmap we released. I have nothing to hide or fear in delivering the new constitution to the Zambian people in the shortest and most practical time possible.
My personal record on this matter is a subject of public knowledge. Within weeks in my job as justice minister, I released the draft constitution from the shelves where others kept it. I have worked rapidly with the minister of justice and colleagues in relevant government departments to provide a foundation upon which a durable constitution will be delivered. But I will insist that the cost of delivering this document must be measured against the pressing need to address the inexcusable poverty and squalor in some parts of our country.
So, whatever we do let us act responsibly and ensure that we do not recommend methods that are not conscious of this reality. I also wish to caution that as lawyers you have a responsibility not just to your profession, but to the nation as a whole.
Your duty to guide the process of enacting a new constitution must therefore take cognisant that this constitution-making process does not become an elite capture. This is not a project by a privileged few but a national project. The law, as they say, is too important to be left to the lawyers.
Nothing can be further from the truth as we debate a matter of the organic law of the land! Another concern that government intends to address is the regionalism and tribal sentiments exhibited during the recent presidential election.
As I have stated since then, my government shall not tolerate acts of sectionalism, and violence particularly those based on tribal or political affiliation – we are one country – one Zambia, one nation. We must jealously guard the peace that we have enjoyed all these years even in the midst of political diversity. I would like to call upon all national and political leaders to join hands in this endeavor and to be the leaders in promoting tolerance and unity.
Let me bring to your attention the recent debate surrounding the appointment of your new leader of bar, the attorney general, by highlighting what I saw as fundamental contradictions in the position the association took. Consider this matter a house keeping issue because I am one of you and therefore I have the right to comment on it. Listening to debates in parliament over his ratification, sometimes I wondered what opponents really wanted to communicate.
The nominee met all statutory requirements but still you opposed him! The rest is now history, he in the job and we all have a duty to cooperate with him. He too recognizes that he will have to rely on broad counsel from senior state counsels and other members of the fraternity to succeed.
The law association of Zambia and the legal fraternity in general has always played a pivotal role in Zambia’s development and governance agenda, I would therefore like to challenge and encourage you to continue in this noble work and to assure you that government is open to work with the association. I would therefore like to invite the association to bring to the attention of government particularly to the ministry of justice any matters the association feels government can help with.
Congratulations once again and I wish you all a joyous evening. Thank you and enjoy the dinner
State House Press Office – Zambia