M’membe attacks Zambian Lawyers

Post Newspapers Editor in chief Fred M’membe has scathingly attacked lawyers and accuses them of being behind the poor performance of the judiciary. The newspaper’s editorial suggests that lawyers are the ones who corrupt judicial officers on behalf of their clients.

Yesterday the supreme court overruled High court judge Fulgence Chisanga’s order to halt the probing of three high court judges for having ruled that M’membe, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Mutembo Nchito and others pay back the KR18 million debt owed to the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ).

In apparent celebration of the supreme court’s ruling which has been criticised by a cross section of society, Mmembe has authored an editorial in today’s publication where he attacks the legal practitioners and goes ahead to praise the same judiciary which he called rotten not so long ago.

Efforts to get a comment from the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president James Banda failed as he was unreachable by phone, but a summarised extract of the editorial is hereby reproduced.

“Even the issues of corruption in the judiciary, if critically analysed, will reveal that it invariably starts with lawyers, it is not easy for judges or magistrates to engage in corruption without the participation or assistance of lawyers. Seldom do litigants have direct access to judges or magistrates, it is lawyers who have that access and it is them who initiate things.
In a word, it is lawyers who corrupt judicial officers on behalf of their clients. This may sound harsh but it is a fact we cannot deny,” reads the editorial.

“Not every lawyer is upright, the disciplinary records of the Law association of Zambia will clearly show that some of the things our lawyers engage in are unbelievable, are criminal…. There is more bad conduct among lawyers than we have among judicial officers.
But lawyers cannot call themselves to virtues which they themselves do not make an effort to practice. We therefore ask our lawyers to respect themselves and be exemplary in their daily duties as advocates……. The input determines the output – rotten lawyers will make rotten judges or magistrates,” reads the editorial further.

The editorial also emphasises the point that “court records have gone missing, in some cases, with the connivance of lawyers.”This is criminal but it happens and people have gotten away with it.”

M’membe himself is a practicing lawyer but the sentiments expressed have attracted mixed feelings from some other members of the profession and have called on LAZ to make a decision.
“It is unethical for a practicing lawyer to scathingly attack colleagues in such a manner, but I cannot say much because LAZ has structures, you may contact legal practitioners convenor, the honorary secretary or even the president himself, but I believe LAZ will summon the Post and take up a stance,” said a Ndola based lawyer who is also against dictator president Sata’s continued efforts of raping the legal profession with his unwaranteed appointments of state counsels, a move which has angered the law mother body.

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