The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has cautioned that any powers exercised by the government in pursuing anyone allegedly involved in the fire that gutted part of city market in Lusaka must be used within the limits provided by the Zambian constitution.
In a statement, LAZ President Linda Kasonde says the association has noted statements in the media attributed to President Edgar Lungu and Vice President Inonge Wina calling for the punishment of the people that caused the fire.
Ms Kasonde states that while LAZ appreciates that this is an emotive issue, government should exercise restrain until the matter is fully and thoroughly investigated so that the cause of the fire can properly be determined.
She says LAZ further cautions the public against speculating as to who caused the fire and what their motives were at this early stage.
Ms Kasonde adds that all citizens are guaranteed the protection of the Bill of Rights as provided by the Republican Constitution and such rights should never be abrogated as to do so would defeat the ends of democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law in Zambia.
She says LAZ further urges government to look into the plight of the victims of the fire and hopes that efforts to reconstruct the market will be undertaken in the shortest possible time.
The LAZ president says the fire that consumed property of defenceless, ordinary Zambian citizens is deeply regretted, especially in light of the fact that the destroyed property was the only source of livelihood for many of the victims of the fire.
Ms Kasonde states that LAZ calls upon law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the matter, and if the fire was an act of arson, bring perpetrators to book in the shortest possible time.