Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda, in his capacity as a Zambian national concerned about the intended constitutional amendments, has petitioned the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Patrick Matibini to use his Office to advise or persuade the Government to withhold tabling any Constitutional amendments until the legal process in the said Petition is finally concluded and attendant consequential reactions are acted upon.
Below is the Petition submitted to the Speaker
THE PETITION OF BRIGADIER GENERAL GODFREY MIYANDA (A ZAMBIAN), DATED 21ST FEBRUARY 2017, TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF ZAMBIA THROUGH THE SPEAKER, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE DR PATRICK MATIBINI
[21ST FEBRUARY 2017]
The Right Honourable Speaker,
The Clerk of the National Assembly, Parliament Buildings, Lusaka
The Petition of Godfrey Miyanda showeth as follows:
PETITION PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 88 (2) OF THE CONSTITUTION OF ZAMBIA (AMENDMENT) ACT 2 OF 2016
My names are Godfrey Miyanda. I am a Zambian national concerned about the intended constitutional amendments, as initially announced by the Republican President, Mr Edgar Chagwa Lungu for the purpose of, as he himself put it, “FINE TUNING” the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, which Act he assented to on 5th January 2016.
Following on the President’s foregoing announcement the Honourable Minister of Justice, Honourable Given Lubinda, has called for submissions by so-called stakeholders, but declared that political parties that had no representation in the National Assembly were prohibited from making submissions. The provisions that are to be “fine-tuned” have not been identified nor has it been explained how and why they were to be so “fine-tuned” but the Minister’s declaration is clearly discriminatory. This lack of transparency is what transpired in the debate that ushered in the so-called new Constitution, when the Government refused to indicate the non-contentious clauses that they were taking to the National Assembly.
a. In November 2015 I followed the National Assembly debate on the Amendment of the Constitution aired live on Parliament Radio. Before this debate, as National Assembly records will or should show, I was one of the witnesses who submitted to the Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights, Gender Matters and Child Affairs (LAGHRGMACA), chaired by Honourable Cornelius Mweetwa, MP.
b. After the said debate I came to Parliament Buildings and accosted the said Chairman of the LAGHRGMACA on or about 1st December 2015, requesting him to receive and convey my Petition to the Speaker of the National Assembly, which he agreed to do. He received my covering letter dated 1st December 2015 and the accompanying Petition. I have never received any response from the National Assembly. Incidentally, the LAGHRGMACA had recommended that the Amendment Bill be withdrawn, which I agreed with, but the recommendation to withdraw was rejected, clearly due to the arrogance of numbers.
On 16th December 2015, following a ZNBC news item quoting the President’s statement in Kasama, I decided to petition the Republican President, urging him to seriously study the amendments BEFORE assenting. The Petition was titled “10 Reasons Why President Lungu Must Read With Eyes Open Before Signing and Assenting to the Constitutional Bills”. I personally delivered the said Petition at the State House Reception and I know that the President received it because he referred to it on 23rd December 2015 when the Clerk of the National Assembly presented to him the Certified Copies of the Bills. The President assented to the Bills on 5th January 2016.
a. On 11th April 2016 I filed a Petition and an Affidavit in Support of the Petition in the Constitutional Court of Zambia (Godfrey Miyanda v Attorney General Cause Number 2016/CC/0006); the said documents were served on the Attorney General on 19th April 2016.
b. That on 13th May 2016 I filed a Certificate of Urgency, praying to the Honourable Court to hear the Petition expeditiously in view of the election timetable announced by Her Honour the Republican Vice President in a Ministerial Statement on 11th May 2016. Essentially I was praying that the Petition be heard and determined BEFORE the 11th August 2016 elections.
My Petition was and is questioning the whole Constitutional Amendment, as some of the amendments, inter alia, included the amendment of Part III of Chapter 1 of the Republican Constitution without a referendum, hence being in breach of Article 79 (3) thereof.
GROUNDS OR REASONS FOR THE PETITION:
That by my Petition of 11th April 2016, Petition No.CC/0006 of 2016, in which I challenged at least 17 provisions, I have essentially questioned the whole Constitutional Amendment; this is so again because, inter alia, Part III of CAP 1 of the Constitution has been amended without a referendum.
That the Petition was finally heard on Thursday 18th August 2016, after the 11th August 2016 had been held; Judgement or Ruling was reserved, hence my prayer that the Fine Tuning of the Constitution should not take place while the Petition is active in the Constitutional Court.
That the decree by the Honourable Minister of Justice prohibiting submissions by political parties with no MPs in the National Assembly is unconstitutional as it is discriminatory and in direct breach of Article 23 of the Republican Constitution.
That it is irrational and unjustified that I, the concerned Zambian who brought to the President’s attention some of the many lacunae in the Amended Constitution, be prohibited from presenting my concerns. I had urged the President to engage me before the assent in order for me to clarify any matters as my list in the Petition was not exhaustive, but he chose to ignore me and assented, thereby confirming that he was satisfied with the Certified Bills. How then can he reasonably go back to Parliament in barely 12 months to amend the same Constitution that he operationalized? That since my Petition awaits judgement and attendant consequential reactions, it is contrary to the House Rules that Mr Speaker always, and quite properly, champions and enforces that matters in court should not and ought not to be debated in the National Assembly. I say that the Republican President, the Minister of Justice and the Learned Attorney General are aware or ought to be aware of the said Petition, which has since been heard and awaits judgment as indicated in paragraph (b) above. I thus petition the Speaker, and through him, the National Assembly and Parliament NOT to proceed with the contemplated scheme to FINE TUNE or more accurately MANIPULATE our Constitution in a pre-schemed stratagem by selfishly and selectively preventing some of the voices from participating in this national agenda for the improvement of the welfare of all our people.
That the Right Honourable Speaker uses his Office to advise or persuade the Government to withhold tabling any Constitutional amendments until the legal process in the said Petition is finally concluded and attendant consequential reactions are acted upon; the President, Minister of Justice and the Learned Attorney General are a party to that Petition and must recognise the authority and mandate of our Courts of Law.
That the discriminatory directive prohibiting submissions by Political Parties not having MPs in the National Assembly be reversed as it is discriminatory and hence unconstitutional.
That, and/or in the alternative, the House defers consideration of the so-called FINE TUNING amendments, if they be tabled, until the said Petition is concluded.
That instead of the intended FINE TUNING amendments, the process be preceded by a transparent review of what transpired in the course of making the constitutional amendments, the holding of the Referendum (which is also part of what I have challenged in the Constitutional Court) and other lessons that may be learnt therefrom. Such review must be devoid of partisan biases and selfishness and put national interest first, which currently is not the case.
That I assure the Honourable Speaker, this august National Assembly and, indeed, the Republican President, that I have no hidden agenda; I mean well as a concerned citizen. That if my concerns over the years, as depicted in the various documents submitted to the Constitutional Court of Zambia, are examined with non-partisan spectacles it will be seen that definitely there was and is need for serious consideration of my concerns and, most likely, the concerns of many silent voices. I am available for any further clarification and/or amplification.
This is the conclusion of my Petition, for the consideration of Mr Speaker and, if he so deems, other persons or bodies identified by him.
Yours in the National Service of our Country and Nation, Zambia – Our Heritage!
[21ST FEBRUARY 2017]