By CHUSA SICHONE –
THE Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has urged MMD Chisamba Member of Parliament Moses Muteteka to resign following his conviction and subsequent five-year sentence slapped on him for theft of a motor vehicle.
LAZ honorary secretary Linda Kasonde said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that Mr Muteteka should resign as his stay in the office after his conviction would amount to being disrespectful of justice and the provisions of the Constitution.
Ms Kasonde said Article 71(2) (e) of the Zambian Constitution stated that a member of the National Assembly should vacate his seat in Parliament where, among other causes, he was sentenced to death by a court in Zambia, or imprisonment for a term exceeding six months.
Ms Kasonde added that Article 71(3) of the Constitution stated that where a convicted person appealed against the court’s decision, the requirement to vacate one’s seat as MP shall not have an effect until the final determination of such an appeal.
”The Constitution also adds that where such convicted MP has appealed to a higher court, he cannot perform his functions as an MP and he cannot receive any remuneration as a member of the National Assembly. ”LAZ, however, takes the view that for as long as honourable Muteteka remains a convict, the honourable thing for him to do is to resign his position as MP.
“He cannot perform his duties with dignity and his continuing to serve in the National Assembly would be a clear affront to justice and to the provisions of the Constitution,” she said.
Ms Kasonde said the Constitutional provision allowing a convicted MP to continue as such pending his appeals only worked well in a society where the court system was not inundated with many cases as was the case in Zambia.
“It is our position that honourable Muteteka reconsiders his position seriously and put the interests of his Constituency ahead of his own so that they are not denied their constitutional right to be represented in the National Assembly for a long period, possibly even up to 2016,” she said. Lusaka principal resident Magistrate Aridah Chuulu last week sent Muteteka to prison for five years for theft of a Fuso truck belonging to his constituency.
Muteteka has since appealed against his conviction on grounds that Ms Chuulu misdirected herself in law and fact when she convicted him of the charge of theft of a motor vehicle and when she held that he fraudulently registered the vehicle in his name.
On Monday, Ms Chuulu granted Muteteka K2, 000 cash bail with two working sureties in the like sum in their own recognisance.
Meanwhile, LAZ has assured the Voluntary Separatees Association of Zambia (VSAZ) and the public that the Disciplinary Committee and the Legal
Practitioners’ Committee were attending to the complaints related to the VSAZ members’ dues.