UPND asks High Court to halt Dialogue Forum

Chirundu UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima has petitioned the Lusaka High Court to declare certain parts of the National Dialogue Bill that infringe on his rights to association unconstitutional.

As an interim relief, Syakalima has asked the High court to grant him an order suspending the operation of the National Dialogue Act No. 1 of 2019 pending determination of his petition.

In his petition filed in the High Court Principal registry on April 18, Syakalima stated that he debated against the bill in parliament because it is an affront to Zambia’s constitution, democracy and constitutionalism.

He stated that the bill forced him to the part of the National Dialogue Forum, a body established for the purposes of amending the constitution, which was in violation to his right and freedom of expression and association.

Syakalima said the fact that the bill barred him from resigning from the Forum was in violation of his rights against forced labour.

He also said it was a violation of his freedom of expression for the bill prohibit publication of information, with a threat of criminal sanctions, to “alleged unauthorised” individuals without authority from the Forum.

Syakalima further opposed the criminalisation of his wilful absenteeism from the Forum.

“Your Petitioner, therefore, prays that he be granted an order suspending the operation of the National Dialogue (Constitution, Eelectoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) Act No. 1 of 2019 pending the determination of this Petition,” read Syakalima’s interim relief petition.

“Your petitioner, therefore, prays that he be granted the following remedies: (a) a declaration and order that the provisions of Sections 3 (h), 5, 6(2), 12, 17 (1) (a) and (b) and 18 (1) (a) of the National Dialogue (Constitution, Electoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) Act No. 1 of 2019 are in violation of the rights and freedoms of the Petitioner in terms of Articles 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia,” read the petition.

“A declaration and order that the provisions of sections 3(h), 5, 6 (2), 12, 17 (1) (a) and (b) and 18 (1) (a) of the National Dialogue (Constitution, Electoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) Act No. 1 of 2019 are in conflict with the provisions of Articles 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23 of the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia and are therefore null and void.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Justice Given Lubinda told journalists at a media briefing yesterday that President Edgar Lungu would launch the National Dialogue Forum on April 25, 2019.

And Lubinda said the Head of State had appointed Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi and academia at the Copperbelt University as chairperson of the National Dialogue Forum subject to ratification by delegates who would attend the Forum.

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