Source: Participate in national debates, lawyers told | The Herald March 2, 2017
Zvamaida Murwira Senior Reporter
Lawyers should participate in national debates such as Parliament’s public hearings on Bills to assist in formulation of national and Government policy, Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda has said.
He said he had noted with concern that lawyers were not keen on participating in public hearings, yet their input could go a long way in giving guidance to the public and help in coming up with better legislation.
Adv Mudenda said this during a meeting he held with the newly elected national executive of the Law Society of Zimbabwe led by Mr Misheck Hogwe, which had paid a courtesy call on him.
He said while presence of lawyers should not influence the direction of the public hearings, they would assist in giving the context of the Bill or issues at hand.
“I think the participation of lawyers must be undertaken for national good,” said Adv Mudenda. “I am disappointed on that, but maybe it is because of communication. But my instruction is that before committees go out they must inform the Executive Secretary of the LSZ.”
Adv Mudenda said there was the Constitutional Amendment (Number 1) under consultation, a process lawyers could make an input.
LSZ executive secretary Mr Edward Mapara said they had in some instances participated in some hearings, but cited late communication as one of the reasons for lack of full attendance.
He said another reason was the environment under which some of the public hearings were held, which he said was tense.
“The nature of the crowd has in some cases not made us comfortable,” said Mr Mapara. “They seem to be a hired crowd to mobilise a certain position.
“If you make a contribution in some cases, people would want to know who you are and why you are present.”
In response, Adv Mudenda said they should approach him once they encountered such problems.
He said it was also one of the lawyers’ roles to assist Government in the alignment of laws given that the State was hamstrung with staff shortage.
“Our view as Parliament is that the Attorney General’s Office is doing some sterling work as far as drafting of Bills is concerned, but it is overwhelmed in terms of staffing,” said Adv Mudenda.
“This is where the LSZ comes in. The AG clinically comes in to see whether the alignment conforms with the Constitution and the Government policy in general,” he said.