A draft private member’s Bill headed for debate in Zambia’s parliament and aimed at repealing the Law Association of Zambia Act has been described as politically motivated.
In a statement of 10 April, made available to Vatican Radio, Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops’(ZCCB) Secretary General, Fr. Cleophas Lungu who is also Oasis Forum Chairperson said the privately sponsored bill of the governing Patriotic Front (PF) party is not only politically motivated but is ultimately intended at disbanding and silencing the Law Association of Zambia.
“Whilst the Oasis Forum is not entirely surprised with the misguided and politically motivated agitations against prophetic voices such as the LAZ and some private media houses, we are extremely concerned and worried by the issuance of a draft Private Member’s Bill by a PF Member of Parliament, which is clearly bent on replacing the current piece of legislation upon which the establishment of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is anchored,” said Fr. Lungu in the statement.
Condemning the bill, the Oasis Forum said, what was happening in Zambia was an attempt by the governing political party to “demonise, destabilise and silence the critical voice from LAZ that has rightly and consistently exposed the illegality of certain decisions and actions taken by the powers that be, throughout the history of our beloved country.”
The Oasis Forum sees a much broader agenda to what is happening.
These actions are “symptomatic signs of a dictatorial agenda aimed at silencing the critical media and the opposition political parties as well as any other prophetic voice in the nation,” said Fr. Lungu.
The Oasis Forum ha also expressed support for Law Association of Zambia President, Linda Kasonde.
“The Oasis Forum is deeply concerned and saddened at the continued spate of verbal and political attacks against the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), most of which have been directed towards its legitimately elected President, Ms Linda Kasonde,” Fr. Lungu said.
Zambia’s Oasis Forum is a platform of Church and civic organisations. These comprise Church bodies such as the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB); Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ). Others are the women’s umbrella movement, the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC). The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is also a member of the Oasis Forum.
The Law Association of Zambia is a professional corporate body established in 1973 by the Law Association of Zambia Act. According to the “Zambia Weekly” Online, LAZ has a membership of over 1,000 legal practitioners qualified to practice law in Zambia or elsewhere. If the proposed “Law of Societies” Bill is passed by parliament, it will allow for the establishment of various law associations in Zambia.