Chapter One Foundation Limited has petitioned President Edgar Lungu for assenting to the Correctional Service Bill no.35 of 2021 when his parliamentary mandate expired following the dissolution of Parliament.
The Bill seeks to give well behaved inmates a fortnight leave to visit their families. Prisoners will also be released on a special license apart from being pardoned.
Chapter One Foundation wants a conservatory order staying the operation of the Zambia Correctional Service Act no.35 of 2021 and restoring the Prisons Act Chapter 97 of the Zambian laws pending determination of the petition.
It wants a declaration that to the extent that the Zambia Correctional Service Bill no.35 of 2021 was assented to by the President after the dissolution of Parliament on May 13, 2021, the Zambia Correctional Service Act no.37 of 2021 was not law enacted by Parliament of Zambia therefore it is null and void.
The Foundation is further seeking an order of certiorari that the Zambia Correctional Service Act no.37 of 2021 be quashed.
In its petition, Chapter One Foundation said that following the dissolution Parliament on May 13, 2021, President Lungu ceased to be part of Parliament.
It said after the dissolution of Parliament until the period when the President-elect assumes office of President in accordance with Article 104 of the constitution, the Head of State can only continue to perform the executive functions of the Republic.
The NGO stated that the constitution vests the legislative authority of the Republic to be exercised by Parliament.
It said according to Article 92 of the constitution, the executive functions of the President, without limiting other provisions of the constitution, are: Appoint ambassadors, high commissioners, plenipotentiaries, diplomatic representatives, consuls and heads of international organisations, receive and accredit foreign ambassadors, high commissioners, plenipotentiaries diplomatic representatives and consuls, negotiate and sign international agreements and treaties and subject to the approval of the National Assembly, ratify or accede to international agreements and treaties.
COF said other duties are to establish, merge and dissolve government ministries, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, appoint people as required by the constitution or any law to be appointed by the President, initiate Bills for submission to and consideration by the National Assembly, among others.
The NGO stated that on April 14, 2021, the Zambia Correctional Service Bill no.35 of 2021 was published and the date when the said Bill was passed by the National Assembly is currently unknown.
“On May 19, 2021, six days after the dissolution of Parliament, the respondent ceased to be part of Parliament and purported to assent to the Zambia Correctional Service Bill no.35 of 2021,” COF said.
“After the dissolution of Parliament on May 13, 2021, President Lungu’s legislative authority conferred by Article 63(1) of the constitution to assent to Bills passed by the National Assembly expired.”
It argued that President Lungu breached Articles 81(8) and 92(2) of the constitution on May 19, 2021 when he purported to assent to the Zambia Correctional Service Bill no.35 of 2021.