Don’t conceal health status of Sata-LAZ

THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has broken its silence over the debate of the health of President Michael Sata and has advised his handlers and government to desist from concealing the real circumstances surrounding the health of the Head of State.

And LAZ has said that the Post Newspaper violated the constitutional rights of Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda by recording a private conversation he was having with some unknown visitor and publishing it without his permission.

LAZ president George Chisanga said the debate on the health of President Sata should be undertaken in an atmosphere of sobriety and genuine concern and that those who were suggesting solutions should be able to do so without making a spectacle out of the President’s health.

Mr Chisanga said in a statement that the Republican Constitution contains explicit provisions that cover eventualities that could cause the President to vacate office by reason of either his physical or mental incapacity.

He said the Constitution also authorizes the President to delegate his presidential powers to the vice-president in instances where the President was unable to perform his functions by reason of illness or any other cause.

“LAZ wishes to take this opportunity to advise all Zambians that the public debate on the health of the Head of State must be undertaken in an atmosphere of sobriety, objectivity and genuine concern. It does not help for those who are in government and who advise the President to conceal the real circumstances surrounding the health of the Head of State. Similarly those who offer to advise on the health of the President or even to suggest possible solutions to the resulting problems must do so without any intention to make a spectacle of this important matter in the public realm,” Mr Chisanga said.On the succession wrangles that have engulfed the Patriotic Front (PF), Mr Chisanga said while the rifts were the internal politics of the ruling party, the party should ensure that their internal difficulties did not impact on the ordinary citizens.

He explained that whatever method the PF would employ to address and redress its wrangles, it was incumbent on the party leadership to ensure that the interests of the nation prevailed over their internal strife.

And Mr Chisanga said the Post Newspaper had breached the constitutional provisions on the privacy of individual citizens by secretly recording a private conversation Mr Chikwanda was having in his home and publishing it without his consent.

Mr Chisanga said if indeed the recording was genuine, and was made without the consent of Mr Chikwanda, then the action constituted the violation of the constitutional rights of the finance minister.

He stated that the Constitution gave citizens who felt that their rights of freedoms to privacy of their homes had been violated the right to seek legal relief before the High Court.

“Under our Republican Constitution, all individuals are entitled to the privacy in their homes. If indeed the recording is genuine and was made without the consent of the parties involved, it is a violation of that constitutional right. The Constitution itself gives the person who feels that his or her freedom to privacy of their homes has been violated the right to seek legal relief before the High Court,” Mr Chisanga said.

On the allegations that Mr Chikwanda had ordered the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to raid the Post Newspaper for failing to honour its tax obligations which have over the years accumulated to more than K27 million in unpaid taxes, Mr Chisanga said LAZ could not make a comprehensive statement because the matter was a subject of the courts of law.

He however said that the legal position was that citizens, residents and companies operating in Zambai had the legal duty to pay tax.

He said citizens, residents and companies must at all times ensure strict compliance to tax laws adding that all laws of the land of which tax laws were an instance were premised on the principle that they would be applied uniformly without discrimination.

“Consequently, the suggestion that Mr Chikwanda directed ZRA to pounce on the Post Newspaper to collect the outstanding tax raises the suspicion that ZRA does not apply the tax code uniformly and independently. This in turn has serious negative effect on the revenue collection,” Mr Chisanga explained.