I read a reaction story from my dear Cde Tutwa Ngulube, Legal Practitioner and Member of Parliament for Kabwe Central on the ruling party, where he is quoted rightly or wrongly in the Daily Nation story dated February 8, 2018 headlined, “Tutwa ticks off Chipenzi” in which he seemingly suggested that only lawyers can or should argue on or raise Constitutional issues because they understand the law than non-lawyers.
Cde Tutwa, allegedly made his reaction to my statement on the removal of presidential and other immunities contained in the Constitution and other national laws so as to promote transparency and accountability in the management and administration of public, private and religious affairs.
According to the story, Cde Tutwa is alleged to have described my sentiments on this subject as misplaced, baseless et al because I did not understand the history of the immunities since I was not a lawyer.
Surprisingly, Tutwa based his argument or dismissal of my sentiments on my being “not-lawyer” and not on my experience on constitutional matters which he may not be privy to.
I took his reaction as just politics and not legal or constitutional because he did not provide any quote from the Constitution to prove me wrong or why non-lawyers shouldn’t raise constitutional matters in their discussion, debates and statements on national matters.
Being a trained lawyer himself and serving under the current regime and president who even misled the ministers to stay on in office after the dissolution of parliament despite us non-lawyers raising the illegality of their stay, Cde Tutwa, seemingly raised no objection to this unconstitutional act perpetuated by the President who is unaccountable to no one because of the existence of the immunity Clause.
May be as a reminder to Cde Tutwa that the Constitution gives me a right and a duty under Article 2 to “defend, resist or prevent a person from illegally abrogating this Constitution” which some lawyers, said to understand the law, have allowed to be breached but I have exercised this responsibility with great love and diligence.
Further, under Article 43 (2) of this same Constitution, which some lawyers have misinterpreted before, does mandate me to endevaour, as a citizen [not a lawyer], “to acquire basic understanding of this Constitution and promote its ideals and objectives.”
In doing so and coupled with some basic trainings done in “Constitution Building for Democracy” obtained both in and outside Zambia, i have a loci standi to raise such issues as i have not only training but interest in and understanding of, not only constitution making processes, but the content and interpretation of the Constitution itself too.
So I don’t need to be a lawyer to understand the Constitution but I just need to be a citizen as per Constitution provision in Article 43 quoted above. Therefore, I have the pleasure to inform Cde Tutwa that I have the necessary understanding of the Constitution, not only of this country but others too.
Even defending a case in Court, I don’t necessary need to be a lawyer to stand and defend myself in Court as this has been ably demonstrated by senior citizen, Brig General Godfrey Miyanda and many others. All i need is understanding the law including the Constitution.
May be the only position I would need to be a lawyer in order to function properly is to be a Judge, Attorney General, Solicitor General, and/or Director of Public Prosecution et al not in understanding the Constitution.
If a senior lawyer of many years of practice can misinterpret the Constitution as is the case on the issue of Ministers’ illegal stay in office and yet non-lawyers did interpret the Constitution correctly, where does Cde Tutwa’s argument stand on the Law of Probability of Correctness in as far as being not a lawyer or being one entails on Constitution understanding?
In this regard, my challenge to Cde Tutwa is to highlight an Article or Clause that debars non-lawyers from raising constitutional issues in Zambian laws, otherwise, i find his reaction, if correctly quoted, constitutionally offside.
Immunity Must Go! Aluta Continua
Written by McDonald Chipenzi
Political Commentator & Electoral Expert