Leader of the opposition Jack Mwiimbu has commenced judicial review proceedings before the Lusaka High Court over the Speaker’s decision to allow debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019.
Mr. Mwiimbu wants the Court to halt the debate in Parliament over the bill saying the bill’s life elapsed on June 2, 2020.
Lawyer representing Mr. Mwiimbu, Mulambo Haimbe confirmed the development in an interview.
The UPND this week maintained that Parliament should not make a mistake of retabling 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.
At a media briefing this week, UPND deputy national spokesperson Cornelius Mweetwa says by his own confession, Chief Government parliamentary whip Brian Mundubile agreed that Bill 10 lapsed 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.
The UPND Deputy National Spokesman 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.