SPEAKER of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini has refused to respond to United Party for National Development (UPND) president Hichilema’s letter regarding the Constitution (Amendment) Bill Number 10 of 2019 because the opposition leader is not one of the petitioners.
In a letter addressed to Mr Hichilema by Clerk of National Assembly Cecilia Sikatele, Dr Matibini said he was constrained to respond because correspondence in the matter was restricted as it was the prerogative of the parties to the petition.
Dr Matibini questioned in which capacity Mr Hichilema was acting regarding the petition to halt the amendment bill. Mr Hichilema on Thursday challenged Dr Matibini to state what clause he had used in the Constitution to reject the request by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) that he halt the Constitution (Amendment) Bill.
Mr Hichilema said in his letter to Dr Matibini that a proposed law could be challenged at any stage of its development, even before it reached Parliament.
He said citizens had rights to challenge any bill before Parliament before it became a law.
Meanwhile, former United Party for Nation Development (UPND) vice president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba has charged that Mr Hichilema should shut up because he does not know how Parliament operates.
Mr Mwamba said Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini acted in accordance with the Constitution and law that protect Parliament.
Mr Mwamba said Mr Hichilema had never been a Member of Parliament and therefore had little knowledge on how Parliament operates.
He said it was prudent that outsiders stayed away from the operations of Parliament because they did not know its jurisdiction.
He was reacting to Mr Hichilema’s move to challenge Dr Matibini to state what clause from the Constitution he used to reject the request by Law Association of Zambia to halt the Constitution Amendment Bill process.
Mr Hichilema said in a letter to Dr Matibini that a proposed law could be challenged at any stage of its development.
He said citizens had rights to challenge any Bill before it became a law.
Mr Mwamba said Dr Matibini was right in the way he reacted to the request by LAZ because Parliament was a supreme organ that was mandated to enact laws in the country.
He said no citizen had the right to stop Parliament from exercising its constitutional rights. “Mr Hichilema has no idea about what he is talking about, he has never even been a ward chairman or parliamentarian.
“So he doesn’t understand what the Speaker was talking about. Parliament is a supreme organ, so what the Speaker said was in line with the laws that protect Parliament and there is nothing sinister about it. He said it was important that people who do not understand how Parliament operates seek advice from those who know for them to understand its jurisdiction,” Mr Mwamba said.