The President of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) struggled and failed to clearly explain to the Constitutional Court whether by inviting institutions and persons to make submissions, the National Assembly attempted to involve the people in the legislative process.
In a matter in which LAZ has challenged the enactment of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill 10, Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa asked LAZ to read paragraph 8 of their Witness statement in which he stated:
“ I note that the Third Respondent in an effort to involve the public in the legislative process in line with the provisions of Article 89(1) of the Constitution wrote to the Petitioner and many other institutions and persons inviting them to submit memoranda on the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 (hereinafter referred to as the “Bill”)
When asked whether he agreed the National Assembly made efforts to engage everyone in the legislative process, including LAZ, Mr Mwitwa said the institutions and persons are not the people.
This prompted the Solicitor General to ask him to read the definition of persons in the Constitution and the question was repeated to him whether Parliament made efforts to engage the people including LAZ, to which he said he doesn’t know.
Another lawyer from the Attorney General, Francis Mwale asked the LAZ President to whether there was a standard procedure of amending the Constitution to which Mr Mwitwa responded by referring to the Technical Committee process preceding the 2016 amendments as the standard.
Mr. Mwitwa belaboured to explain processes which included consultative forums and conferences.
The Principal State Advocate Mwale asked him to explain which law provided for that process, Mr Mwitwa said there was none.
Mr Mwitwa also told the Court that when Parliament invited them to make submissions to the Parliamentary Committee scrutinising the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill, Parliament did not invite them to a legislative process but a consultative process.
When shown Article 89(1) of the Constitution on the provision for Parliament to engage in a legislative process, Mr Mwitwa maintained that the process to scrutinise the Bill by a Parliamentary Committee is not a legislative process but consultative one.