The Constitutional Court of Zambia is set to deliver the Judgment this Friday, 29th November, 2019 on whether the Constitution of Zambia Bill No. No 10 to amend the Constitution of Zambia was submitted to the National Assembly in violation of the Constitution.
When the matter came up on Monday, the Law Association of Zambia and Chapter One Foundation made closing oral submission in which they told the Court that the petition was not meant to dispute the powers of the National Assembly to amend any part of the Constitution.
Mr. Chimankata, a lawyer from Sangwa and Simeza said the Law Association of Zambia was only challenging the decision by the President to initiate the Bill based on powers conferred on him by virtue Article 92 of the Constitution and the Attorney General to have signed the Bill based on powers granted to him based on Article 175 of the Constitution.
The lawyers from Sangwa and Simeza stated that the President and Attorney General should not have signed the Bill which their witnesses had claimed was made by the National Dialogue Forum without paying attention to the national values contained in Article 8 and 9 of the Constitution.
However, Founder and lawyer for Chapter One Foundation Linda Kasonde differed with LAZ that their petition goes to the core of the substance contained in Bill 10. She submitted that the Constitution contains a basic structure which cannot be amended by Parliament without consulting the people.
In reply to the submissions, the Attorney General Likando Kalaluka, Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa and Public State Advocate Mr. Mujuda took turns to dissect the submissions by the petitioners by submitting that the National Dialogue Forum had no powers to enact any law and only Parliament has power to enact laws.
They trio submitted that the national values do not apply to processes by bodies like NDF in drafting the law but that they apply when Parliament is enacting the law, and referred the court to Articles 9, 62(3) and Article 79 of the Constitution.
The Attorney General also extensively quoted the recent judgment of the Court in Godfrey Miyanda versus the Attorney General in which the Court affirmed that the basic structure in the Zambian Constitution only exist in theory as Parliament has power to amend any part of the Constitution, provided the procedure in Article 79 has been adhered to.
The Solicitor General also stated that all the witnesses presented by the two petitioners confirmed that there has been need to amend the Constitution. It was thus his submission that the only body mandated to alter any part of the Constitution as suggested by those who made submissions before and during the NDF was Parliament.
Meanwhile the Constitutional Court by the majority decision of 6 to 1 threw out the application by Ms. Kasonde for a conservatory order as it was filed in defiance with the directions of the Court. The Court emphasised that procedures in any court are necessary in the dispensation of justice as affirmed by both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court itself.
The session was attended by different civil society activists either support or oppose the Bill who were seen sharing notes. All activists were heard hailing the court for the efficient manner in which it has proceeded to hear the matter.