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Proposed constitution amendments uncharacteristic of a democratic society – Chapter One Foundation

CHAPTER One Foundation Limited has charged that the proposed amendments to the Constitution are uncharacteristic of a democratic society.

This is in a matter where Chapter One Foundation Limited and the Law Association of Zambia are challenging the State’s decision to remodel the Constitution through (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019.

The NGO is seeking an order that Minister of Justice Given Lubinda withdraws Bill 10 from the National Assembly because the process of its enactment and proposals do not comply with national values, principles and provisions of the constitution.

In its reply to the State’s answer to its petition, the NGO argues that the State before initiating Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 had indicated that the process was to refine the Constitution and not a substantial and comprehensive review of the same.

Chapter One Foundation states that at the hearing of the petition, it shall produce proof that the State had contravened the provisions of the Constitution.

The State in its answer to the petition by the NGO submitted that granting an order to withdraw Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 will not only amount to interfering with internal proceedings of Parliament but also set a precedent that would paralyse and undermine various internal proceedings of the National Assembly.

The State argued that the Constitutional Court had no jurisdiction to hear the petition challenging constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10, which is proposed law.

Attorney General Likando Kalaluka said that Chapter One Foundation’s petition was essentially challenging the contents of the Bill, which was proposed law.

He argued that that the court cannot be called upon to make pronouncements and declarations on the contents of the Bill which is proposed law.

Kalaluka suggested that Chapter One Foundation can only challenge the contents of the Bill when it is enacted into law as the court would then have power to review the said law.

He stated that the petitioner or any other person or entity could not impeach a Bill which is by its nature in an inchoate State before it’s procession has been fulfilled.

Kalaluka submitted that the court could only review and impeach acts or decisions of Parliament after it has completed to exercise its jurisdiction in respect of its internal proceedings.

“The petitioner is not entitled to any of the reliefs sought, therefore the petition ought to be dismissed witch cost to the respondents,” said Kalaluka.

But Chapter One Foundation rebutted the assertions by Kalaluka that the Constitutional Court had no authority to determine the matter.

The NGO said the court was mandated to consider the constitutionality of law.

“The second petitioner denies allegations that this court cannot be called upon to make pronouncements and declarations on a Bill. The respondent shall be put to strict proof,” the NGO said.

“The second petitioner denies the allegation that it can only challenge the contents of a Bill once they are enacted.”

Chapter one Foundation insisted that it is entitled to the reliefs sought and that the petition should be allowed.

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