THE Legal and Justice Sector Reforms Commission has heard that the high failure rate of students at Zambia Institute of Advanced Legal Education (ZIALE) is a result of senior lawyers who allegedly don’t want the market to be saturated.
Making submissions before the Justice Frederick Chomba-chaired commission on Wednesday, Martin Chewe, a retired teacher, said he finds it difficult to understand why less than 10 out of 200 students graduate from ZIALE.
“There are concerns that senior lawyers, who are lecturers, don’t want new entrants in the market hence the high failure rate. I somehow believe this because a well prepared candidate cannot fail an examination, I know this because I am a retired teacher,” he said.
But Justice Chomba, who is former ZIALE director, said students should concentrate on mastering law practice and civil procedures.
“In college, they learn academics and these bright students are too presumptuous that ZIALE is a walkover. They tend to lose focus in class; others walk out to respond to phone calls while classes are in session,” he said.
And Commissioner George Chisanga asked Mr Chewe which was feasible between a government loan scheme and slashing of fees.
In response, Mr Chewe said a loan scheme is better but that lawyers in the private sector should allocate a certain fee to ZIALE since they benefit more than the government.
Another petitioner has submitted before the commission that discretion should be exercised when executing the 15-year jail term for defilers as some victims allegedly consent to sexual intercourse.
Clive Simwanza, a father of two girls, told the commission that he is in support of stiffer punishment of defilers.
“My perception changed when a niece (below 16 years) who was under my custody got pregnant by a man aged 21 years. It was a clear case of defilement but when we had a discussion, we realised that there was consent between the two.
“They were in a relationship and so we thought about the whole issue and decided to resolve it as families. I submit that discretion should be exercised in certain cases as much as we want to stop this problem,” he said.
But Commissioner Anne Nhekhairo told Mr Simwanza that a minor by law is incapable of giving consent.
In response, Mr Simwanza said Zambia should start enacting laws that suit local scenarios.
“Some of our minors know the dos and don’ts of sexual activities and so maybe a sentence of five years can be applicable so that a culprit is given time to re-organise since the minimum of 15 years is too much,” he said.
Earlier, Senanga district commissioner Beatrice Imbwae urged people to make meaningful submissions to ensure that a reformed legal and justice system is implemented.