The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says President Mwanawasa’s call for the solicitor general Sunday Nkonde to resign from his post is unconstitutional. This follows the Nkonde’s directive to overturn a decision by a Lusaka Province police chief to deny opposition leader Michael Sata permits to hold rallies in the capital Lusaka. The asscoaition is now calling for Mwanawasa to withdraw his statement while urging Nkonde not to resign.
William Mweemba is the President of the Law Association of Zambia. He talked about why they are opposing President Mwanawasa’s call for the solicitor general to resign.
“Under the public order act, the police do not have power to either approve or refuse to approve for someone to have a public rally. What then happened was, when the solicitor general was served with the process, quite rightly decided not to defend the matter…The solicitor general was correct because in fact that is really the truth interpretation of what the law says,” he said.
Mweemba said President Mwanawasa was irritated because the solicitor general quashed a decision to overturn a decision by a police official to deny opposition leader Michael Sata’s permits to hold rallies in the capital Lusaka.
“The reason why the president is asking the solicitor general to resign is because he says the solicitor general over-ruled the police. So giving that premise, you cannot ask someone to resign when that person has not done anything wrong,” he said.
Mweemba said the Law Association of Zambia disagreed with the president because he was setting the wrong precedent.
“For us, one of the problems that we have, is that if indeed the solicitor general resigns for the reasons advanced by the president, what we consider would be happening is that the president would be undermining the powers of the office of the solicitor general,” Mweemba noted.
He said officials holding public offices like the solicitor general must act independently of the executive.
“As a law society, regardless of who appoints who, we believe that people who hold constitutional offices such as the solicitor general and the attorney general must act independently of the executive,” he said.
Mweemba however not happy about the presidents move to control the judiciary in the country.
“What the president is doing now, we feel really as a sign that the executive would like to control everyone irrespective of which arm of government they serve, and for us we are doing this as a matter of principle. We do not believe that the executive should be allowed to interfere in the operations of other organs of government,” he said.
Mweemba said he expects the president to rise above partisan politics and make decisions, which are in line with the best tenants of democracy and also to ensure that the rule of law is not undermined.
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