Sunday, June 23, 2024

Stakeholders Reject Proposed Amendment to National Prosecution Authority Act

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The Zambian government’s bid to amend the National Prosecution Authority Act of 2010 has encountered strong resistance from stakeholders and the legal community.

The proposed National Prosecution Authority (Amendment) Bill of 2023 aims to modify the composition and authority of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Attorney General Mulio Kabesha presented the amendments to Parliament on behalf of the government.

However, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Public Protector, the Zambia Law Development Commission, and the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) have vehemently objected to the amendments, particularly the proposal to remove the DPP from their position as Chairperson of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.

Hon. Clement Andeleki, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Human Rights, and Governance, is expected to present the amendments to the House and may convey the rejection of the Bill.

Nevertheless, Minister of Justice Mulambe Haimbe remains determined to pursue the proposed amendments, asserting that they received Cabinet approval.

Regarding the changes to the powers and autonomy of the DPP, the amendments seek to strip the DPP of their role as Chairperson of the Board of the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions. These powers are akin to those held by the Chairperson of the Board of the Bank of Zambia.

Furthermore, these amendments may potentially infringe upon the Constitution, as Article 180 of the Constitution grants the DPP autonomy and independence.

The government intends to appoint a Board Chairperson for the Directorate of Public Prosecutions through the Minister of Legal Affairs.

In their submissions, the DPP Gilbert Phiri, Public Protector Caroline Sokoni, the Zambia Law Development Commission, and the Law Association of Zambia have all argued against compromising the position of the DPP by divesting them of powers within their constitutional office.

Quoting the Director of Public Prosecutions, Gilbert Phiri, he emphasized, “The position of the DPP should not be weakened or undermined by diminishing the powers vested in this vital office.”

Caroline Sokoni, the Public Protector, echoed these sentiments, stating, “Maintaining the independence and authority of the DPP is crucial for ensuring a fair and transparent prosecutorial system.”

The Law Association of Zambia raised concerns about the potential implications of the amendments on the integrity of the prosecutorial process and the rule of law.

It remains to be seen how the government will proceed in light of the strong opposition from stakeholders and legal experts. This contentious issue highlights the importance of preserving the independence and effectiveness of the Director of Public Prosecutions in upholding justice and combating corruption.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Please don’t let this amendment pass. The constitution allows for the DPP to be accountable to the Constitution and not any body, statutory or otherwise.
    Even with the constitutional provisions right now, the DPP is highly influenced by the President. We saw fmr DPP embroiled in a standoff with the President in the Milingo case wherein she says she received instructions from the President which fact was verified by Solicitor General and State House legal advisor.
    Having a board to which the DPP will report is counter productive since all boards are appointed by the President.
    Dictatorial tendencies here.

    • I agree with your viewpoint. But we’ve had in the recent past a situation where DPP Lillian Siyunyi was behaving strangely by turning up in court and refusing to support appeals where her predecessor had secured convictions. She joined the side of defence lawyers. Why have these stakeholders not spoken out against such blatant misconduct by a supposedly autonomous officer of the state? And she did that not once, not twice but three times if not more. Is this the mischief the state is trying to cure?

    • Gunner, you are making up facts. List two of the alleged instances where she refused to appeal. Better yet, give me three of them.

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  3. Where do Ministers obtain such lame arguments from? Ati: “Minister of Justice Mulambe Haimbe remains determined to pursue the proposed amendments, asserting that they received Cabinet approval.”
    Would cabinet not approve its own bill?.
    Can that be the only reason for passing a bill?

  4. But with whatever means, they will manage to repeal that one. Let me know which one of their bills ever flopped becoming law?

  5. They want to remove the powers of the DPP and give them to their cadres so that they can persecute and torture their enemies freely. The opposition in parliament should be strong and make sure this does not pass. UPND and Ichilema are spending too much time and effort on fixing PF, doing nothing on the ever increasing cost of living. Every time you work up these days that day will not end without hearing that the price of this and that has been adjusted upwards.

    • There’s a possibility of a by election in Nchanga… opposition must field the strongest candidate in order to increase their numbers in parliament.

  6. The push by the Executive to dominate all areas of governance isn’t sincere. They want to have a hand in every process. This narrow agenda will backfire on them. Political power is temporal, if they weaken these institutions they’ll dance chikokoshi one. The MMD tried the same and made the theft of motor vehicles non-bailable just to fix one philanderer. Before long many of them were locked up on the same charge. Politicians don’t learn

  7. Not aware of these proposed changes. And who are these stakeholders who do not seem to include me? Surely I’m a stakeholder and I want to have my own say.

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