The UNITED PARTY FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT has maintained that parliament should not make a mistake of retabling the dead constitutional amendment Bill 10 of 2019 as the party will be left with no choice but to seek legal redress through the courts of law.
The party has further revealed that the Patriotic Front’s interest in Bill 10 lies in the repealing of Article 52 (4) of the current Republican constitution as amended in 2016 which empowers citizens to challenge the nomination of a presidential candidate.
Addressing the media this morning at the Party secretariat, UPND deputy national spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says by his own confession, Chief Government parliamentary whip Brian Mundubile yesterday agreed that Bill 10 elapsed on June 4th,2020 in accordance with procedures and practice of parliament on the lifespan of Bills.
Mr. Mweetwa said the fact that the Bill died twenty days before the Standing Orders Committee decided to defer it to another day is indisputable while what is in dispute is whether the Standing Orders Committee has the jurisdiction to defer a dead Bill to another day.
“What is in dispute is the question on whether the parliamentary Standing Orders Committee operated within its ambits to extend the life of a bill whose life expired 20 days before. What is a fact is that the committee can only give life to a Bill which still has life left in it. This is the position of the UPND legally and procedurally. There is no law which allows the Standing Orders Committee to resurrect any dead Bill”, he said.
Mr. Mweetwa added that the UPND would have no option but to seek legal action and seek interpretation on the provisions of the law surrounding the issue should the PF and Parliament opt to bring the bill back on the order paper as announced by Justice Minister Given Lubinda on the floor of the house.
He said the party was consoled at the fact that it had a legal avenue as well as the numbers necessary to block any further transactions of the dead Bill adding that the bill could only be brought as a fresh constitutional Bill six months after its lapse.
The UPND agreed with the Speaker of the National Assembly that there is something wrong with Bill 10 which is it’s rejection and added that it is wrong to use an Act of God as an excuse for the committee not sitting to defer the bill within its lifespan.
Mr. Mweetwa who is also Choma Central MP accused the PF of having concentrated on looking for members of parliament to garner enough numbers for them to realise that the bill was lapsing.
“Not all is however lost for the PF as there is time to present a new bill to Parliament under a different name and had the opportunity to consult with stakeholders and masses. That can only be after six months and maybe only maybe can we support the amendments”, he said.
The UPND deputy National spokesperson further revealed that the PF interest on Bill 10 is to tamper with Article 52 which provided for challenging the nomination of a presidential candidate by a citizen.
“The PF is scared that President Edgar Lungu’s candidature is likely to be challenged using Article 52(4) of the current constitution hence wanting to repeal the said article using section 12 of Bill 10.The issues in bill10 such as the return of deputy ministers, coalition government, dissolution of parliament were not part of the original plan. These were deliberately introduced to create a ploy to cause confusion. The PF should deal with issues that affect the governance of this country and not those that are political in nature. The PF should not attempt to remove the rights of the people in the constitution to challenge any illegalities” he said.
He said the UPND and it’s members of parliament as well as some independent parliamentarians had seen through the PF lies and machinations which they shall not allow as they are deceptive and aimed at sustaining their stay in power.