A NON-GOVERNMENTAL Organisation has petitioned the Constitutional Court seeking a declaration that Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 violates the national values and principles in the constitution.
Chapter One Foundation limited, that seeks to promote human rights and constitutionalism, wants the court to order the Minister of Justice Given Lubinda, to have the Bill withdrawn from the National Assembly as the process of its enactment and the proposals contained in it do not comply with the national values and principles and the provisions of the constitution.
The petitioner wants the court to make a declaration that the President, Minister of Justice and the Attorney General acted illegally by initiating legislation that does not comply with the national values and principles as provided in the constitution.
Chapter One Foundation run by Catholic Fr Cleophas Lungu has cited the Attorney General as the respondent in the matter and has appointed former Law Association of Zambia president Linda Kasonde to represent it in the matter.
Chapter One Foundation stated that actions taken by government in initiating the constitution amendment bill contravenes the constitution and was unconstitutional.
The petitioner said the decision to remodel the Constitution in the manner set out in the amendment Bill No.10 of 2019 contravenes the constitution and was therefore unconstitutional.
The NGO said that the amendment Bill as initiated, approved, signed and presented to the National Assembly by the Attorney General, ignored or neglected to apply the fundamental principles of democracy and constitutionalism as set out in Article 8 (C) of the constitution.
The petitioner indicated that the proposed amendments as part of the enactment process were an attempt to deliberately undermine or neglected to apply the principles required for the exercise of legislative authority provided in Article 61, which were the protection of the constitution and promotion of democratic governance in the country.
Chapter One Foundation stated that section 32 of the amendment bill contravenes the constitution to the extent that it proposes limiting the powers of the National Assembly from determining whether or not the President ought to be impeached.
It stated that the proposed amendment bill contravenes articles 8 and 9 of the constitution, which when read together provide the national values and principles, specifically constitutionalism and good governance and their application in the enactment of legislation.
“The proposed amendment further contravenes article 61 of the constitution which directs that the exercise of legislative authority is to be exercised in a manner that protects the constitution and protects democratic governance,” the NGO stated.
“Section 43 of the amendment bill contravenes the constitution that it proposes the deletion of the number of judges to comprise the Constitutional Court thereby weakening the system of judicial independence.”
Chapter One Foundation is seeking a declaration that the government cannot propose the enactment or enact legislation, including propose the amendment or amend the constitution in the manner that contravenes the national values and principles as set out in the constitution.
It wants a declaration that Parliament cannot enact legislation that contravenes Article 61 of the Constitution or Articles 8 and 9 of the Constitution and can only enact legislation that protects the Constitution and promotes Democratic governance in Zambia.
Chapter One Foundation is further seeking a declaration that the decisions, omissions and the actions by government in drafting and taking the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 which weakens the Constitution and does not promote democratic governance in Zambia should be declared unconstitutional and contrary to the provisions of Article 61 of the Constitution and was illegal.
The NGO wants a declaration that government cannot fundamentally change the nature of the Constitution contrary to the will expressed by the people of Zambia without duly consulting the citizenry.