Chapter One Foundation Limited has petitioned the Constitutional Court for an order that Minister of Justice Given Lubinda withdraws Bill 10 from the National Assembly, saying the process of its enactment and the proposals do not comply with national values, principals and provisions of the Constitution.
The NGO, which was established to promote human rights and constitutionalism, further wants the court to make a declaration that the President, Lubinda and the Attorney General, acted illegally by initiating legislation that does not comply with the national values and principles as provided in the Constitution.
Chapter One Foundation also wants the court to make a declaratory order that government cannot fundamentally alter the nature of the Constitution contrary to the will expressed by the people without duly consulting them.
It is also seeking, among other claims, a declaration that all institutions involved in the process of enacting legislation including National Assembly and Parliament, are bound by the Constitution to apply the national values and principles in the enactment process.
Chapter One Foundation, whose chairperson is Fr Cleophas Lungu, is being represented by LCK Chambers.
It has cited the Attorney General as the respondent in the matter.
In a petition filed in the Constitutional Court, the NGO stated that the National Assembly contravened the provisions of certain Articles of the Constitution when it decided to accept and caused to be placed before it for first reading, the Constitutional of Zambia (Amendment) Bill which does not strengthen the Constitution or promote democratic governance.
It added that the decisions and action of initiating and proposing amendments without applying the national values and principles as set out in articles eight and nine of the Constitution contravenes the said Constitution.
Chapter One Foundation contended that the proposed amendments contained in Bill 10 as initiated, approved, signed and presented to the National Assembly by the Attorney General, ignored or neglected to apply the fundamental principles of democracy and constitutionalism as set out in Article 8 (C) of the Constitution.
The NGO further contended that the proposed amendments in Bill 10 are an attempt to deliberately undermine or neglect to apply the principles required for the exercise of legislative authority provided in Article 61, which are the protection of the constitution and promotion of democratic governance in the country.
The petitioner stated that section 32 of the amendment Bill to the extent that it proposes limiting the powers of the National Assembly from determining whether or not the President should be impeached, contravenes Articles eight and nine of the Constitution.
“This proposed amendment contravenes Articles eight and nine of the Constitution which when read together provide the national values and principles specifically constitutionalism and good governance and their application in the enactment of legislation. The proposed amendment further contravenes Article 61 of the Constitution which directs that the exercise of legislative authority is to be exercised in a manner that protects the Constitution and protects democratic governance,” read the petition.
The petitioner stated that section 43 of the amendment Bill contravenes Article eight and nine of the Constitution to the extent that it proposes the deletion of the number of judges to comprise the Constitutional Court thereby weakening the system of judicial independence.
“This proposed amendment contravenes Articles eight and nine of the Constitution which when read together provide the national values and principles specifically democracy, constitutionalism and good governance and their application in the enactment of legislation,” read the petition.
It now prays that the court should make a declaration and order that government cannot propose the enactment or enact legislation including propose the amendment or amend the constitution in the manner that contravenes the national values and principles as set out in the constitution.