PROFESSOR Muna Ndulo has described the public order Bill as unconstitutional.
Government had worked on a bill to amend the public order Act as a response to the many public concerns on how it has been abused by police against people with dissenting views seeking to assemble.
The public order bill was withdrawn during the last sitting of Parliament, pending the passing the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019.
But Prof Ndulo, a US-based constitutional lawyer, says the bill is worse than the current public order Act.
“In the following paragraphs, I would like to show that the public order Bill is unconstitutional. In my view its contents are worse than the existing public order Act. Its proper name should be Public Order Plus Act,” he argued. “For the avoidance of any doubt, the right to assemble is a constitutional right, provided for and guaranteed by Article 21 of the Zambian Constitution. Article 21 provides that: ‘except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of Assembly and Association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to any political party, trade union or other association for the protection of his or her interest’.”
He said the public order Bill should not be above the Constitution.
“The public order Bill is ordinary legislation and is and cannot be above the Constitution and must conform to article 21 of the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It gives life and meaning to any other piece of legislation,” Prof Ndulo said. “The supremacy of the Constitution is an elementary principle of constitutional democracy. Thus, Parliament and indeed any other branch of government cannot have more power than that granted to it by the Constitution. Parliament cannot make legislation which violates constitutional provisions. Such legislation would be unconstitutional and invalid.”