IAPL: Zimbabwe: Lawyers ready to fight Mnangagwa’s government

Law Society of Zimbabwe

THE Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) says it will face down threats from government, and a court case that could strip it of regulatory powers in a case analysts say has wider implications for other perceived opponents of the administration.

Last week, government accused the LSZ of hobnobbing with the West, and pursuing a sinister agenda, but the lawyers say they were being targeted for being strong critics of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government over worsening human rights abuses.

Additionally, a lawyer, Joshua Chirambwe, made a High Court application challenging a law that made the body the sole regulator of the legal profession.

The Harare lawyer is seeking a declaratory relief, arguing that sections 58, 64 and 65(1) to (5) of the Legal Practitioners Act were invalid and in violation of the Constitution.

But LSZ president Wellington Magaya last Friday told the Walter Kamba Rule of Law Lecture and awards ceremony in Harare that the legal fraternity was under siege in the country.

Respected South African professor of law and former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela, was the keynote speaker at the event.

“The very foundations of our existence as a profession are being tested, and we are certain we will overcome. To those who are after our right to self-regulate, let them be reminded that we will not allow anyone to take this away from us without a good fight,” Magaya said.

“They are labouring under the misconception that if self-regulation is taken away from us, we will stop to speak out about human rights and the rule of law. We will continue to do that, in whatever form or organisation that we can.”

Zimbabwe has been ranked poorly in terms of human rights issues, with the Mnangagwa administration accused of serious violations in silencing its critics.