Friday, December 18, 2009

Mwenye backs LAZ’s call for DPP to resign

Mwenye backs LAZ’s call for DPP to resign
By Patson Chilemba
Fri 18 Dec. 2009, 04:00 CAT

LUSAKA lawyer Musa Mwenye yesterday backed LAZ's demand for Chalwe Mchenga to resign as Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) because he has questionably used his discretion.

Commenting on the Law Association of Zambia’s 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, Mwenye asked Mchenga to use high moral conscience to heed the calls from an important association such as LAZ for him to resign.

"LAZ president Stephen Lungu needs every lawyer’s support on this one, and he definitely has my support. LAZ needs to be commended and granted unflinching support on this score.

In more ways than one, the DPP has exercised his discretion in ways that raise serious questions ranging from his refusal to appeal matters considered meritorious… to his refusal to allow media organisations to carry out private prosecution," Mwenye said. "Unless we see a very radical shift in attributes in that office, those of us who have hitherto held the Office of DPP in high esteem may be tempted to re-examine our fate in that office."

Mwenye advised the government to reflect seriously on the issues raised by LAZ.

"Instead of condemning LAZ, I would expect the government to seriously examine why LAZ, which has until recently adopted a moderate approach to these issues has decided to be more forthright. A little introspection by those tasked with the affairs of the state will reveal that there are some things that just cannot be condoned by right thinking members of society," Mwenye said.

Mwenye said should Mchenga fail to resign, LAZ was competent enough to explore other legal avenues open to it.

"My experience in this country is that people rarely resign on grounds of moral conscience, and I do not expect this situation to be different. But one would expect the holder of that office to exercise the high level of moral conscience, conscience by the holder of the office of DPP. So we would expect that he would heed the calls of an important institution such as LAZ," said Mwenye.

On Wednesday, LAZ asked Mchenga to resign from office, saying LAZ had formed the strong and reasoned view that the greater interest of the public and the criminal justice system in the country would best be served if Mchenga resigns”.

LAZ has written to the Attorney General's chambers complaining that the executive had usurped the powers of the DPP. This followed statements by President Rupiah Banda and his ministers, which confirmed suspicions that the executive instructed the DPP not to appeal the acquittal of former president Frederick Chiluba on corruption charges.

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