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aid societies call for legislation
May 05, 2006
LEGAL aid societies
yesterday urged the Government to come up with legislation that will regularise
their operations considering that they deal with public funds.
Giving oral evidence before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Justice,
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the legal aid societies said there had
been a proliferation of societies because of increasing demand from members
of the public who could not afford to hire a lawyer.
Mr Harold Machivenyika,
an officer with Prime Legal Society, said the societies’ operations were
based on transparency, accountability and reliability to financially assist
members of the public when they have legal problems.
of a legal framework by Government will guarantee that members of the
public get appropriate services from contributions they make out of their
hard-earned cash," he said.
He said the legal
framework would also guarantee that members of the public get refunds
in case of abuse of funds.
Chairman of the National
Legal Aid Society Mr Victor Chimhawu said the legal aid society concept
was still fairly new in Zimbabwean society and sometimes it was met with
scepticism, resistance and hostility.
"These legal aid
societies are an essential service that works just like medical aid societies,"
Legal aid societies
operate by offering the public an opportunity to contribute to a common
fund where they would be covered in the event of requiring legal representation.
Zimbabwe Legal Aid
Society (ZimLAS) chief executive officer Mr Amos Jumbe said all legal
aid societies should be registered to give confidence to members of the
public in the way the societies operate.
Giving evidence before
the same committee, members of the public who have benefited from the
assistance of legal aid societies in the past said legal problems arose
at any time and it was wise to be a member of one especially at this time
when hiring a legal practitioner had become unaffordable.
Mr Winston Chigavazira
said legal aid societies were helpful but they should be trustworthy as
public funds were involved.
"They (legal aid
societies) have helped a lot of people. Legal problems arise any time
when one has no money to pay a lawyer," he said.
Another member of
a legal aid society Mr James Munzvandi said he was helped by the society
after being involved in a road accident.
"The costs of hiring
a lawyer are very high. I urge Parliament to look into this issue because
it helps a lot of people," said Mr Munzvandi.
Chairman of the 14-member
committee, Makoni East Member of Parliament Cde Shadreck Chipanga said
the committee would go through the presentations and come up with a report
that would be tabled in Parliament.
also be made whether a Bill should be proposed in this direction.
"We are, however,
concerned that organisations like yours that (handle) public money go
on and on without anybody checking on them," said Cde Chipanga.
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