Kasonde Exits LAZ – With Privilege Comes Responsibility
“The judiciary has a duty to the people of Zambia to uphold the law regardless of the personalities or subject matter involved” stated Linda Kasonde in a speech at the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) conference this week.
The outgoing President was addressing the conference theme of ‘Power, Privilege and the Pursuit of Justice: Legal Challenges in Precarious Times’. Kasonde, who will be replaced by LAZ Vice-President Eddie Mwitwa, explained: “With privilege comes responsibility. As the Bible tells us in Luke 12:48, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected’. I invite you all to find ways to use the tools of your trade to help those in need. Through LAZ initiatives such as the National Legal Aid Clinic for Women, the LAZ legal week, the anti-GBV week, or even external initiatives such as the juvenile justice project ‘Undikumbukire’ started by LAZ member Sara Larios or Legal Resources Chambers started by Mr. John Sangwa and Mr. Robert Simeza, everyone of us can do something.”
Kasonde, whose time at the helm of the organization has seen heightened tensions with the government, cautioned that Zambia is living in precarious timings. “If anyone doubts that we are indeed living in precarious times, you only have to consider this statistic: in the last two years that this Council has been in office, LAZ has issued a total of eight statements in defence of the judiciary, not including interviews. That is as compared to the fact that between 2011 to 2015 LAZ only issued three statements in defence of the judiciary. Our Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land by which all inhabitants of Zambia are bound, sets out the perimeters within which the people of Zambia should be ruled. It provides for the separation of powers of the three arms of government: the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. It provides for checks and balances on these three arms of government. At the heart of constitutionalism and the rule of law are the judiciary. They are the guardians of constitutionalism and the rule of law in Zambia. It is subsequently imperative that Zambia has a strong, independent and impartial judiciary.”
Looking forward she stated: “I hope that we will be able to make meaningful resolutions to help in addressing some of the developmental and rule of law challenges we face in the country whilst at the same time enhancing our legal knowledge and skills. As former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere once said: ‘The rule of law is the basis on which rests the freedom and equality of our citizens. It must remain the foundation of our state. We must not allow even our disgust with the mutineers to overcome our principles’.”