The Constitutional Court will on Friday this week deliver it’s judgement in a matter where the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) and Chapter One Foundation Limited are challenging government’s decision to alter the Constitution of Zambia through Constitution (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019.
In it’s petition, LAZ had cited the Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as the respondent in the matter.
LAZ had called one witness whereas Chapter One Foundation had called two before closing their case.
But when the matter came up for hearing before a full bench of seven ConCourt judges, Monday, Kalaluka informed the court that after considering the evidence given by the petitioners’ witnesses, the State decided not to call witnesses.
“In the circumstances, we have also considered that all parties have since filed skeleton arguments before this court. In view of the fact that the issues raised are clearly settled, we are ready subject to the guidance of the court to make oral submissions so that the hearing of this matter maybe concluded today,” he said.
At this point, Constitutional Court president, Justice Hilda Chibomba gave each party 30 minutes to make oral submissions and 15 minutes for a reply.
But a lawyer representing LAZ, Luckson Mwamba, said the association was left in a difficult position because it thought the State would call witnesses and that it was ready for trial.
And a lawyer representing Chapter One Foundation, Linda Kasonde added that the petitioners needed more time to consolidate their arguments.
She said making oral submissions in 30 minutes was not sufficient given the magnitude of the case.
In its ruling, the Court said in the interest of Justice, the matter would be adjourned to 14:30 hours for the petitioners to consolidate their submissions.
When the matter resumed in the afternoon, LAZ, through its lawyer Jeffrey Chimankata, insisted that the decisions that were made as evidenced by Bill no. 10 of 2019 did not show patriotism, national unity, constitutionalism, non discrimination, democracy or good governance.
Chimankata added that if not met, such a proposed amendment was unconstitutional.
“You cannot amend just for the sake of it, there must be a problem. In deciding to amend the Constitution, have you taken into account the people’s well being, are you upholding the principal of non discrimination?” he asked.
“In short, the decisions evidenced by Bill No. 10 seek to take away the benefits and rights vested in the people. And that’s the sole purpose for having safeguards within the constitution.”
Another lawyer for LAZ, Luckson Mwamba, submitted that the common thread between the National Assembly, the President and the Attorney General was that they were exercising their respective authorities pursuant to the Constitution.
Mwamba argued that if the decision was not within the confines of the Constitution or contravened a provision of the Constitution, that decision was illegal.
He further emphasised that the evidence before court by the petitioners was not contested nor counter challenged.
“The bottom line is that there has been a contravention of the Constitution by the President, the Attorney General and the National Assembly and this court must come in and stop that decision. Our prayer is that this is a fit and proper case for the court to grant the reliefs sought by LAZ because the Constitution has been abrogated by the decisions challenged,” said Mwamba.