Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mchenga must go - Mundia Sikatana

Mchenga must go - Mundia Sikatana
By George Chellah, Patson Chilemba and Ernest Chanda
Sat 19 Dec. 2009, 04:01 CAT

Lusaka lawyer Mundia Sikatana yesterday charged that Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chalwe Mchenga must go because he has not performed to the advantage of the nation.

And Transparency International - Zambia (TIZ) demanded that Mchenga resign because he is a liability to the nation and has rendered himself irrelevant to the country's criminal justice system.

Commenting on the Law Association of Zambia's (LAZ) demand for Mchenga to resign because the public could no longer be expected to have trust in the DPP's office as long as Mchenga was there, Sikatana said the position taken by LAZ was long overdue.

“I am going to agree with LAZ, yes, because the controversy that has been caused by the DPP is something where the Law Association of Zambia must take a stand in favour of the nation,” Sikatana said. “He Mchenga has not performed to the advantage of the nation. He has appeared to have been, as if he was performing on instructions.”

Sikatana said the nation needed a DPP who would be neutral and not subject to the pressure from those in power. He said it was too late for Mchenga to learn any lessons now because he had failed to change despite many calls from people for him to do so.

“Now it's too late for him to consider lessons. He has differed with his association on a very critical matter. The decision by LAZ is sufficient to give him an opportunity to quit voluntarily. He should opt to quit,” said Sikatana.

TIZ executive director Goodwell Lungu backed the position adopted by LAZ.
“The consortium of 18 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has been vindicated over the DPP's unprofessional conduct in office. We have said time and again that the DPP has rendered himself irrelevant to the criminal justice system by following political instructions,” he said.

Lungu cited former president Frederick Chiluba's case as one, which was clear. That the decision not to appeal was made by the ruling party politicians.
“The DPP was merely following instructions for example, the President made it clear that the government was not going to appeal, that statement was also echoed by a lot of government officials,” Lungu said. “Mchenga has made himself a liability to the country by following such political instructions. It’s good that LAZ has realised that Mchenga has conducted himself not in a professional way.”
He said at last LAZ has realised that the position, which the 18 CSOs took a long time ago was correct.

But deputy minister in the Office of the Vice-President Gastone Sichilima called for the immediate resignation of LAZ president Stephen Lungu. Sichilima said yesterday at a press briefing that Lungu should immediately resign because he was allegedly running the association like a political party.
He said Lungu had allegedly failed to run the affairs of LAZ and was playing to the gallery of some media houses and had turned the association into a political party.

Sichilima said LAZ was supposed to be a professional body that provided means for lawyers to effectively participate in legal matters.

He said as a professional body, the public and the tovernment relied on LAZ for legal advice.

He urged other lawyers to come out in the open and condemn Lungu for his careless statements.

He said by demanding Mchenga's resignation, LAZ was not protecting one of its members even when it was consulted when the DPP was appointed.
“He should immediately resign as LAZ president because he has no agenda to run the association,” he said.

However, Lungu said he could not comment on the matter because he did not know in what context Sichilima was calling for his resignation.
And Vice-President George Kunda yesterday accused LAZ of being used by political elements in their call for the resignation of Mchenga.
Briefing the media at his office, Vice-President Kunda said LAZ was undermining the integrity of the DDP's office.

He said it was sad that a professional body like LAZ could be used by people with specific political agenda. He said LAZ has of late been issuing statements which were of concern to the government, the legal profession and the public at large. He said in the last few days, Lungu had issued a statement calling for Mchenga's resignation, allegedly on the basis that he was being controlled by the executive arm of government in executing his functions.

“In our view, statements of this nature are not factual and merely cast aspersions on the integrity of the person holding the office of Director of Public Prosecutions," Vice-President Kunda said. "In fact, such allegations appear to be malicious, politically motivated and engineered from outside the legal profession. We do not meddle into the constitutional mandate of the DPP. The political dimension of the LAZ statement is confirmed by the fact that the president of Patriotic Front Mr Michael Sata is also peddling the same allegations against government. The LAZ statement coincided with Mr Sata's utterances. Why the coincidence?"

Asked why he chose to denounce LAZ now that the Association has conflicted government position on the DPP when in fact he has all along praised the conduct of LAZ, Vice-President Kunda accused the LAZ council of comprising opposition PF members.

"LAZ indeed is a reputable professional body, but there are some individuals in LAZ who are tarnishing the image of the legal profession. On this particular issue, calling for the resignation of the DPP, I can vouch for the many legal practitioners I have spoken to that they have not been consulted. There are some members in the ouncil of LAZ who are members of PF, who are pursuing this agenda. And, unfortunately, they are trying to influence our president Mr Lungu to do wrong things," he said.

"Mr Mchenga has not done anything wrong. You see there is also a political agenda, I talked about Mr Sata and some people out side they want to pursue certain personal agendas and they are using the Association. Lawyers of this country are very professional and I'm proud to belong to my Association, the Law Association of Zambia. But in this particular case unfortunately it is being used for political ends, that's the wrong part of what is happening now."
Vice-President Kunda also accused LAZ of making an alliance with some opposition political parties in working against Mchenga.

"LAZ and its president should avoid making political alliances with political parties and sympathisers of such political parties. In this case LAZ should not behave as if it has entered into a LAZ/PF/UPND Pact. Again LAZ should also not operate according to the dictates and whims of what is written in some newspapers. LAZ belongs to all of us, it is our Association, it was created by the people of Zambia through an Act of Parliament the Law Association of Zambia Act, CAP 31 of the Laws of Zambia, so as to serve everybody," Vice-President Kunda said.

"In particular, it should work with the government of the day on the numerous issues described in its objects such as law reform, dispensation of justice and advancement of the rule of law and the rights and liberties of individuals and several other areas. The question is how can LAZ achieve such objects if LAZ is hostile to government and enters into alliances with our political competitors?"
Vice-President Kunda defended Mchenga as a highly competent and experienced lawyer whose call for resignation should be dismissed.

"Mr Mchenga is a highly competent, specialised and experienced criminal lawyer performing the functions of the DPP professionally and in accordance with the Constitution of Zambia. The calls for Mr Mchenga's resignations should therefore be dismissed with the contempt that they deserve and are rejected forthwith," Vice-President Kunda said.

"My advice to the LAZ president is to concentrate on the core objects of protecting the interests of LAZ members and suggesting areas of improvement in the legal system instead of politicking. Again, the Association has done very little in the area of Law Reform, notwithstanding that most of our laws are archaic. I challenge the Law Association of Zambia to make suggestions and recommendations to my office for Law Reform. As government we are ready and willing to work with LAZ."

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home