Ziyambi chickens out of controversial Bill

Leader of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi

JUSTICE minister Ziyambi Ziyambi has refused to gazette a Bill meant to strip the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) of regulatory powers as sought by a Harare lawyer.

Joshua Chirambwe had approached the High Court seeking an order curtailing the operations of the LSZ. Chirambwe is challenging what he called the LSZ’s dual role of being a regulator and demanding membership fees from its members.

He sought a declaratory relief setting aside sections 58, 64 and 65(1) to (5) of the Legal Practitioners Act as invalid and in violation of the Constitution.

In his application, Chirambwe wanted Ziyambi to repeal the Legal Practitioners Act (Chapter 27:07) and enact in its place a law providing for a regulator of legal practice separate from the lawyers’ association.

In his opposing affidavit, Ziyambi said he had no constitutional obligation to introduce the Bill.

“I have no constitutional obligation to introduce a Bill as is sought by the applicant and consequently this honourable court cannot, therefore, grant the order sought in circumstances where no duty exists or is imposed on me,” Ziyambi said.

“As a member of the Cabinet of Zimbabwe, it is the responsibility of such a Cabinet to initiate and prepare, if it so wishes, a Bill of the nature sought by the applicant. In the event that the Cabinet does not initiate and prepare such a Bill, it is the Cabinet which will resolve that I present the same in Parliament as part of the normal duties of my portfolio in Cabinet, and in terms of the assignment of the administration of the Act in question upon me by the President.”

But Ziyambi said Chirambwe’s argument that there was conflict of interest in LSZ carrying out both regulatory functions and member representation has some merit.

He said: “I find that applicant’s cause of action is essentially that there is a conflict of interest in second respondent carrying out both regulatory function and the functions of member representation which are akin to those of a trade union. I take the view that there is some merit in such a cause of action and in the averments applicant sets out in this regard in his paragraphs.”

Chirambwe cited Ziyambi, LSZ and Attorney-General Prince Machaya as the first to third respondent.

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