Time law society reforms …should MPs practice law.

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THE ZIMBABWEAN political arena has always been an interesting space. 

Politicians are normally identified by their getting into public office. 

There are a lot of politicians, fine politicians who never ran for an office. 

However, politicians usually get paid from politics. 

Few politicians take up separate jobs in order to supplement the salaries. 

This is normally done to avoid the conflict of interest. A conflict of interest is when a party has competing interests or loyalties because of their duties to more than one person or organisation. 

There are MPs who have jobs that directly contrast their political positions. Their jobs cause serious conflict of interest which is a situation in which a person or organization is involved in multiple interests, financial or otherwise, and serving one interest could involve working against another. Typically, this relates to situations in which the personal interest of an individual or organisation might adversely affect a duty owed to make decisions for the benefit of a third party.

Zimbabwean politicians besides running businesses of their own they engage in some jobs. 

The most culprits in engaging in other jobs are lawyers who become politicians.

Following the ‘cash for questions’ scandals during the John Major Government, in United Kingdom parliamentary rules were tightened, to ban direct lobbying or advocacy for reward. 

Which means MPs in the U.K. can no longer engage in some jobs and remain MPs. 

Equally in Zimbabwe , the role of an MP is changing, arguably making it less compatible with the additional responsibilities of a second job. 

There is more emphasis on providing a fast, responsive constituency service. 

It is high time that Zimbabwe must have reforms in the work of MPs

I must highlight MPs are involved in the creation of laws which are applied by the courts. The lawyers who practice both law and politics are guilty of the abuse of law they purport to be protecting and upholding. 

Turning to specifics, the MDC-A spokesperson, Fadzai Mahere, is a lawyer and she loves to give press statements of cases in which she is handling. 

Equally, her party colleague and politician cum-lawyer, Tendai Biti has on several occasion, with froth on his lips made vociferous press statements on his court cases. There are many such posturing politicians cum-lawyers from the MDC A. 

Needles to say, their statements would be denigrating the law itself and those who pronounce it. 

While this behaviour stinks it clearly contradicts the democratic rights that these politician cum -lawyers claims to be championing. 

There has to be a clear line between legal work and political spin. 

While this situation is hardly admirable, I argue then that the Law Society of Zimbabwe must urgently review its code of practice, lawyers who choose politics must not be allowed to appear in court as the mirage has increasingly become too blinding. 

What opposition MPs and all MPs for that matter should understand is that, by being paid by the taxpayer, they are actually civil servants in a sense. 

It follows therefore that they should not be allowed to engage in other private jobs which conflicts with the integrity of their political job. 

These MPs cum lawyers work with the government of the day and in other instances attack the same judicial system that they belong to. 

This opens up another thought are the people who are paying them not being hoodwinked? 

How can you engage a politician cum-lawyer who upholds law of the land and seriously believe he will fervently and passionately represent you against it? 

It is not a surprise then that they have to make press statements to appease their clients. 

Politicians-cum-lawyers must not be allowed near the courts of law unless they are witnesses or accused persons. 

As long as an MP swears to uphold the dignity of parliament and the Constitution and is paid by the state, the MP should not be allowed to practice law during his tenure. 

Many crimes are committed by politician cum-lawyers and notorious among them is Job Sikhala. 

He hogs the limelight in this regard. 

Any attempt to define treason in Zimbabwe falls short unless Tendai Biti’s name is mentioned. 

These are executive politician cum-lawyers in the MDC A who have perennially failed to abide with the law of the land. 

They cannot sit on the fence hence,  it is time parliament takes a hard stance as other jurisdiction have done, to draw up stringent rules that will not tolerate any MP whose second job compromise the integrity of the state, the law and parliament.

A politician cum-lawyer, amounts to giving a brainy mind that is tainted with partisan politics a loaded gun. 

Needless to say, chaos ensues.

Thus can a legal practitioner be a Member of Parliament and be paid an allowance? 

An Indian court in Satish Kumar Sharma v Bar Council of H.P.4, the Court made the following remarks,

“The profession of law is called a noble profession. It does not remain noble merely by calling it as such, unless there is a continued, corresponding and expected performance of a noble profession. Its nobility has to be preserved, protected and promoted. An institution cannot survive on its name or on its past glory alone. The glory and greatness of an institution depends on its continued and meaningful performance with grace and dignity. The profession of law being noble and an honourable one, it has to continue its meaningful, useful and purposeful performance inspired by and keeping in view the high and rich traditions consistent with its grace, dignity, utility and prestige…”.

It is time now for parliament to come up with stringent rules that will not tolerate any MP whose second job compromises the integrity of the state, the law and parliament. 

Political machinations have no room in court. 

Every MP has a great responsibility entrusted on his or her shoulders to support the lawful decisions of the majority in Parliament. 

One cannot swear to uphold the tenets of state institutions and then act otherwise.

There have been loose statements made about the judiciary, another arm of the state for political reasons. 

These statements are made by the lawyers who have lost their professional identity and shoot everywhere with a double barrelled gun.

Surely, Zimbabwean judicial system cannot be a circus where all and sundry can say whatever they want and claim to be exercising their democratic right. 

It is actually undermining the judiciary and its institutions. 

There must be a difference between a lawyer in politics and a lawyer at work.

Any political disagreements shall only be exercised and expressed in politics and not in court.

To maintain the public trust in the judiciary system those lawyers with big mouths like Biti and Sikhala should stay away from our courts. 

Vazet2000@yahoo.co.uk

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