The National Assembly of Zambia has submitted to the Constitutional Court that it cannot be restrained from considering the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No 10 as suggested by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), saying it enjoys unfettered jurisdiction in its internal proceedings.
This is in a matter in which LAZ has dragged President Edgar Lungu, the Attorney General and the National Assembly to the Constitutional Court for attempting to alter the Constitution of Zambia through Bill 10 of 2019.
LAZ has petitioned the court, seeking, among other reliefs, a declaration that the respondents’ decision to the extent to which it seeks to amend the Constitution in the manner set in the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019, is illegal because it contravenes Articles 1(2), 8, 9, 61, 79, 90,91, 92 and 79 of the Constitution.
Last month, LAZ president Eddie Mwitwa asked the court to restrain the National Assembly from continuing with the legislative process to enact the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No.10 into law, pending determination of the petition.
But in the respondents’ affidavit in opposition to LAZ’ summons for an order for an interim injunction, National Assembly of Zambia deputy clerk Cecilia Sikatele argued that the State cannot be restrained in the manner suggested by LAZ.
She stated that LAZ was aware that whenever bills and other matters of public interest were considered by the National Assembly, stakeholders were invited to make submissions to the National Assembly and appear before its committees to augment their submissions.
“Therefore, the National Assembly does not engage stakeholders or transact business related to its mandate through the press, as anticipated by the deponent of the affidavit in support of summons for an interim injunction,” read the affidavit.
Sikatele further stated that in relation to the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No 10 of 2019, 56 witnesses, including LAZ, had been invited to make submissions to the select committee considering the Bill.
She added that LAZ was scheduled to appear before the select committee of the National Assembly on September 17 to make written submissions.
Sikatele insisted that the National Assembly enjoyed exclusive cognizance and unfettered jurisdiction in the conduct of its internal proceedings.
“The National Assembly always invites LAZ in matters that concern LAZ and invariably receives written submissions from them. It is a fact that LAZ even took part in the National Dialogue Forum which was a public consultative process on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No 10 of 2019,” read the affidavit.
“I am advised by my advocates and verily believe the same to be true that the State cannot be restrained in the manner suggested by LAZ.”