The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has recently been under serious attacks from supporters of the ruling PF party for being biased in favour of the opposition, but it looks like most lawyers in Zambia are supporting their association – for now.
LAZ has always been providing checks and balances in Zambia, but recently its comments have become increasingly critical of government. While this is in line with many other commentators, even some non-PF-aligned analysts believe LAZ is taking its concern for opposition UPND party president Hakainde Hichilema a step too far.
The attacks on LAZ have been led by a group of PF-aligned lawyers, with Kelvin Bwalya Fube in the lead. Last month, five of them filed a motion of no confidence in the current LAZ council, led by president Linda Kasonde, for failing to remain neutral on key national issues. “The association must have a cordial relationship with government, but of course that does not mean that we should be bootlickers,” Fube stated.
The motion was tabled for an extraordinary general meeting on 29 April, but Fube objected. Together with two other PF-aligned lawyers he went to court to stop the LAZ council from chairing the meeting as the council was the subject of debate. However, the High Court dismissed the application, arguing that the three lawyers should have objected in accordance with LAZ’s rules.
Equally, Fube suffered another defeat at the extraordinary meeting, when the majority of LAZ’s members refused to support his motion during debates, although some agreed that the council had shortcomings. Eventually, Fube withdrew the motion, not because he “feared a vote”, but “for the sake of unity” He further told Muvi TV that the council had “promised to reform”, and that these discussions would take place at LAZ’s annual general meeting scheduled for 6 May 2017.
Before the extraordinary meeting, Fube warned that if his motion would fail, lawyers should “prepare for fireworks” from parliament. In March 2017, PF Kasama MP Kelvin Sampa proposed to change the Law Association of Zambia Act through a Law Societies of Zambia Bill, which would allow more than one law association. This would allow lawyers to join an association of their choice, but it would also bridle LAZ. Fube stated: “I am in a privileged position to speak to the MPs that are moving this motion [bill], and they are saying ‘put your house in order!’”
Fube has, thus, made it relatively clear that he acting on behalf of someone else, calling himself a “messenger”, and referring to “powerful politicians” and “big brother”, but Justice Minister Given Lubinda stated that government had nothing to do with Fube’s motion, challenging him to provide evidence for his claims.
Some of the PF-aligned lawyers include Kelvin Bwalya Fube, Terence Chabu, Kondwani Musukwa, Robson Malipenga, Tutwa Ngulube, Hobday Kabwe, Makebi Zulu and Anna Mwitwa-Mwewa.