Lissu smells rat in proposed board to register lawyers

02Jul 2017
James Kandoya
The Guardian
Lissu smells rat in proposed board to register lawyers

THE Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) has strongly criticized the matrix of proposals submitted by the government proposing advocates to be registered by a statutory body, saying the move threatens the right of lawyers to defend the constitutional rights of the people.

TLS President Tundu Lissu.

 

According to TLS, the statutory body, which will be under the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs, will have too much power over advocates including revoking their licences.

TLS President Tundu Lissu told journalists on Friday in Dar es Salaam that the politico-administrative arm of the state will determine who gets a licence and disqualify any advocates whom they think does not deserve it.

He was speaking following a TLS extraordinary general meeting which was convened purposely to discuss and deliberate on the way forward in the wake of submitted proposals by the government to streamline lawyers’ affairs.

Lissu called on lawyers in the country to reject the government proposals as the proposed board would not be independent since it would firmly operate under the ministry. 

“Our association’s governing council has convened this extraordinary general meeting to bring collective wisdom and experience to bear on this most vexing problem,” he said, calling on the government to let the current registration system continue.

Lissu, who is member of Parliament for Singida East (Chadema), said if the proposed bill is passed and becomes law, advocates will experience tough times ahead, noting that their collective resolve would be tested to the extreme.He said the TLS governing council has requested its eminent members, Dr Hawa Sinare and Beatus Malima, to take them through the nook and cranny of the ‘Bango kitita’.

“The unity and solidarity of members is needed now than ever before to ensure such proposals are not endorsed,” the TLS president noted.

Lissu expressed worries that advocates/lawyers who will defend or prosecute unpopular causes or litigations will have to think twice before taking up such causes or clients.

For instance, he said that currently some advocates dare not defend foreigners in the ongoing economic sabotage cases where foreigners are being denounced as robber barons and plunderers of the nation’s natural resources.

“Who will dare to defend any of the many persons who have recently been demonized on political platforms as drug barons, tax cheats, forgers of academic certificates and enemies of the state?” he questioned.

TLS Vice-President Godwin Ngwilimi said since Tanzania ratified UN conventions it was duty bound to practice the rule of law.

Early this year, the government threatened to deregister TLS, accusing it of engaging in politics.

Then minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs Dr Harrison Mwakyembe had warned the association to remain a professional outfit that protects professionalism and a broad range of interests of legal practitioners.

“If TLS purports to have grown big enough to engage itself in additional responsibilities of political activism, the government will not hesitate to revoke all laws and regulations that enable its existence,” Dr Mwakyembe, a lawyer himself, had said. 

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