Flash back: LAZ demands DPP’s resignation

Post Newspaper
By Patson Chilemba
Thu 17 Dec. 2009, 04:01 CAT
THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) yesterday asked Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Chalwe Mchenga to resign from office.

In a press statement, LAZ president Stephen Lungu stated that LAZ was now convinced that due to continued interference by the executive in the affairs of the office of the DPP, the public could no longer be expected to have trust and confidence in this important office as long as Mchenga remained DPP.

“As LAZ, therefore, we have formed the strong and reasoned view that greater interest of the public and the criminal justice system in our country will best be served if the Learned Director of Public Prosecutions Mr F. R. Mchenga, SC resigns, and we call upon him to do so,” Lungu stated. “We reiterate that we seek to make no political gains as LAZ in our call for the DPP’s resignation. We firmly believe that there is serious Constitutional case to be made in our call. We subscribe to the view that if government will not restrain itself in its interference with constitutional and other public office, this will lead to a serious breakdown in constitutionalism and the rule of law by which all known developed and emerging democracies are expected to be governed.”

Lungu stated that on December 7, 2009, LAZ addressed a letter to the Office of the Attorney General in which various matters pertaining to the recent comments in the operations of the DPP were addressed.

He stated that the letter was in compliance with the provisions of the Republican Constitution because the only office the DPP could consult was that of the Attorney General.

“From the date we submitted our letter to the Attorney General, we have not received any response from the office. What we have instead seen is a number of press reports namely by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Honourable Ronnie Shikapwasha and the Deputy Minister for Justice Honourable Todd Chilembo, in which attempts are being made to classify our communication to the Attorney General as political statements which are bent on misleading the Public and undermining the Office of the DPP,” Lungu stated.

Lungu stated that LAZ had no intention whatsoever of entering into a fray of politics in addressing the matter of the Office of the DPP.

“To the contrary, LAZ seeks to be perceived as custodians of the rule of law. That is the reason we raised our concerns with the Attorney General. We had hoped (and are still expecting) to have a pacific and well-reasoned resolution of the matters raised in our letter.

At the time of issuing the present statement, we are mindful that the Attorney General has not responded to our letter,” Lungu stated. “However, on the basis that the public has heard responses of government to our letter from members of Cabinet, we have formed the view that the position taken by the two honourable ministers represents the position of government on the subject.”

Lungu observed that the statements made by the ministers were a clear testimony that government was so determined to usurp the constitutional powers vested in the DPP.

“The stance to rise to his defence instead of allowing the concerned Office to respond to our letter is clear evidence of this usurpation,” stated Lungu.

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

In 2004, the then justice minister and attorney general George Kunda gave instructions to the then acting DPP Caroline Sokoni to discontinue, by way of entering a nolle prosequi, the matter in which former Ministry of Health permanent secretary Kashiwa Bulaya was charged with corruption, claiming it was a weak case for the state. However, Sokoni defied Kunda’s instructions. Shortly after that, Sokoni was replaced with Mchenga who immediately carried out Kunda’s instructions on December 3, 2004

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