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Lawyers not part of essential service providers

by Staff reporter
07 Jan 2021 at 08:29hrs | Views
HUMAN rights lawyers have filed an urgent chamber application at the High Court seeking an order compelling government to declare them essential service providers to facilitate their ease passage at security checkpoints during the national lockdown period.

Government recently announced a 30-day national lockdown which started on Tuesday, but left out lawyers on the list of essential service providers.

In their application, the Young Lawyer Association of Zimbabwe (YLAZ) led by Obey Shava and represented the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights argued that section 27A(g) introduced by Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021 restricts law firms or those offering legal services from performing their duties during the lockdown period.

The lawyers are seeking an order to stop police from demanding exemption letters from them.

They said the requirement was unlawful and unconstitutional as it infringed on the legal practitioners' constitutional right to freedom of movement and the right to and freedom of profession, trade or occupation

This, they said, was in conflict with the Practice Direction 1 of 2021 issued by Chief Justice Luke Malaba on how courts are to operate during lockdown, which allowed lawyers to operate, but police were barring their free movement to and from work.

The lawyers cited Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga in his capacity as Health minister, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage minister Kazembe Kazembe and Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi as respondents.

"The ZRP statements of January 4, 2021 and its enforcement be and are hereby declared unconstitutional and a contravention of the rights of applicants, litigants, arrested and accused persons in sections 50, 64, 66 ,69 and 70 of the Constitution and are consequently set aside," read the application.

"The services by lawyers are an integral part and an essential component in the national economy ecosystem, the justice delivery system including law and order. It's critical in a democratic society. That is why lawyers are officers of the court."

Source - newsday