HARARE – Lawyers are increasingly becoming reluctant to represent Zanu PF due to non-payment of legal fees.
According to the ruling party’s central committee report presented to the 2017 special extraordinary congress, some attorneys are owed fees as far back as 2008.
This comes as the ruling party has several pending cases before the courts, some from the 2008 presidential election run off.
In the report, the Zanu PF legal affairs department expressed disappointment that it had become vulnerable to attachment of property, and now runs the risk of legal practitioners refusing to handle Zanu PF matters in the future.
“Lawyers who provided services to the party in 2013 harmonised elections have not yet been paid. It is very difficult for the department to work with disgruntled lawyers who sacrificed their time to render services to the party,” it said, adding that “the appeal is to the department of finance to pay arrear legal fees…
“Since the party is approaching 2018 general elections the department is appealing to the finance department to honour the external lawyers’ obligations that have been outstanding since 2013.”
As many ordinary Zimbabweans are increasing struggling to afford legal representation, lawyers are struggling to raise money to pay for annual practicing certificates, with some reducing their legal fees.
According to Law Society of Zimbabwe, of the 3 000 lawyers registered with the High Court, during the first half of 2017 only 1 500 acquired practicing certificates — a prerequisite to operate legally.
However, not all of the 1 500 lawyers without practicing certificates are rogue lawyers, as some are said to be attached to civil service, corporate and other sectors.
Practicing certificates are acquired annually at a cost of $750, with most law firms committing to pay for their employees.
Lawyers who spoke to the Daily News on condition of anonymity claimed they were struggling to raise the practicing certificate fees because business had gone down owing to prevailing economic hardships.
The ruling party is currently battling numerous court cases, particularly in Mashonaland East Province, and is also seized with cases involving expelled and suspended members.
“Mashonaland East province has six pending cases out of 40 which were in the last year’s report arising from the 2008 presidential run-off. Two cases related to murder charges and four are public violence,” the department said.
The Zanu PF legal affairs department was also concerned in the way party structures were not complying with procedures in conducting votes of no confidence and disciplinary procedures.