[By Mwaka Ndawa and Oliver Chisenga]
MONZE Central member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu has applied for leave in the Lusaka High Court to challenge the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow the restoration to the order paper for consideration of Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2029.
Mwimbu wants an order of certiorari to quash Dr Patrick Matibini’s decision to allow the deferment of the proceedings relating to the controversial (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 to a date yet to be advised within the fourth session of twelfth assembly.
Mwimbu is seeking an order of mandamus directing the Speaker to discontinue any or further consideration, debate or other proceedings relating to Bill No. 10.
He also wants a declaration that Dr Matibini’s decision is invalid, null and void and of no effect and an order that all proceedings in the National Assembly relating to Bill 10 be stayed until after the determination of the matter or further order of the court.
In his affidavit verifying facts relied on for leave to apply for judicial review, Mwimbu said that since Bill No.10 of 2019 was presented in the third session of the 12th National Assembly, it had lapsed due to prorogation of the house but was restored on December 3, 2019 and accordingly placed on the order paper of December 4, 2019 for consideration by the house at second reading stage.
He said justice minister Given Lucinda applied for an adjournment and debate relating to the Bill was slated for March 17, 2020 and debate concluded to March 18.
Mwimbu explained that on March 18, Mazabuka Central member of parliament Gary Nkombo raised a point of order on whether the Bill could be considered when an active matter relating to the same was still before court.
The lawmaker said that Dr Matibini reserved his ruling on Nkombo’s point of order and contemporaneously adjourned Parliament sine die.
Mwimbu explained that Parliament reconvened on June 9 this year and no special dispensation was made in relation to the Bill upon resuming proceedings without considering that the six months period in which the Bill is to be considered had lapsed and was deferred to December 4, 2020.
“The Speaker of the National Assembly did not address his mind to the fact that the Bill had lapsed and erroneously concluded that the National Assembly could proceed with consideration of the Bill,” Mwimbu said.
“The Speaker allowed debate and proceedings in respect of the Bill to resume with Chipata Central member of parliament Moses Mawere resuming debate from where he had left when the house was adjourned sine die on March 18, 2020. At no point did the Speaker address the house on the matter of the Bill having lapsed.”
Mwimbu stated that Dr Matibini granted leave sought by Lubinda and allowed consideration, debate and other process relating to the Bill to continue despite it having lapsed and being “killed” in terms of parliamentary processes and procedures.
He contended that despite numerous representations having been made on the matter of the lapse and consequent death of the Bill, the decision of the Speaker to allow resumption of consideration, debate and other process relating to the Bill on a date yet to be advised but within the current session of the National Assembly continues to be in force.
“In a press statement issued by the government chief whip on June 25, 2020 and published on the Parliament website, it is conceded by the author that the Bill lapsed on June 4, 2020 according to established parliamentary practice and procedure. Contrary to what is stated in the press statement, the standing orders committee did not extend the life of the Bill, which had already lapsed by efluxion of time and had been killed on June 4, before proceedings on June 24,” Mwimbu explained
He added that according to parliamentary practice and processes, there is no procedure that allows for restoration to order paper, consideration, debate or extension of the Bill after it has been “killed” due to lapse of time and after such lapse the Bill cease to exist.
Mwimbu is seeking reliefs on grounds that Dr Matibini’s decision was unreasonable and irrational, without justifiable reason following the lapse of the Bill on June 4, 2020 and is not amenable to further consideration, debate or process in Parliament.
He further stated that the decision was wrong at law by failure of the National Assembly to follow laid down procedure when it resumed sitting relating to Bill No. 10 of 2019 and deferred proceedings to a date yet to be advised but within the current session of the National Assembly despite the fact that it was killed upon its lapsing on June 4.
Mwimbu said the decision is procedurally improper, illegal and null and void.
Mwiimbu is being represented by Mulambo Haimbe.
“I can confirm on behalf of my client Honourable Jack Mwiimbu that we have this afternoon commenced judicial review proceedings against the Attorney General in which our client Honorable Mwiimbu is seeking the intervention of the court by way of judicial review regarding the continued debate of Bill 10,” Haimbe said.
“Our client is of the view that the continued debate of Bill 10 is an illegality and has therefore asked that the proceedings relating to that particular Bill be halted said Haimbe.
He said he would not say much more than that as the matter is now in court.