The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has submitted before the Constitutional Court that justice Annie Sitali misdirected herself on a point of law when she refused to restrain the National Assembly from considering the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 on the premise that the lawyers’ body had not proved that it will suffer irreparable injury if an injunction was not granted.
In its ground of appeal to the full bench of the court, LAZ submitted that justice Sitali ought to have explained how LAZ would still be in a position to defend the Constitution in the absence of the injunction.
In this matter, LAZ is challenging judge Sitali’s refusal to grant it an interim injunction restraining the National Assembly from continuing with the legislative process to enact the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 into law, pending determination of its petition where it has sued President Edgar Lungu, the Attorney General and the National Assembly for attempting to alter the Constitution of Zambia through the same Bill.
On September 24, 2019, Judge Sitali dismissed LAZ’s application for an injunction saying it’s not an appropriate case to exercise her discretion to grant an interim relief in form of an interim injunction.
She found that LAZ had not proved that it would suffer irreparable injury if an injunction was not granted against the respondents in the case.
On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court ordered LAZ to file grounds of dissatisfaction on its application where it is challenging the single judge’s refusal to grant the injunction.
Constitutional Court president Hilda Chibomba, who was sitting with four other judges, noted that LAZ had not indicated its area of dissatisfaction on the ruling of the single judge and adjourned the matter to Friday.
And in its arguments on appeal to the Constitutional Court for an interim injunction from the ruling of the single judge filed, Wednesday, LAZ submitted that justice Sitali misdirected herself on a point of law when she refused to grant the interim injunction against the respondents on the premise that LAZ did not prove that it would suffer irreparable injury if the injunction was not granted.
It stated that in the absence of an injunction, the respondents would go ahead and implement their decision to amend the constitution in the manner stated in the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 and in the process, reducing the determination of the issues raised in its petition to an academic exercise.
“LAZ’s application for an interim injunction is founded on the premise that unless the injunction is granted as prayed, the National Assembly will submit the Bill for second and third reading and thereafter it will be presented to the President for assent. Once these steps have taken place, the Bill will cease to exist and in its place, there will be the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act, which will repeal with or without re-enactment of the various parts of the Constitution,” LAZ argued.
It submitted that once the Bill becomes law, the Constitution would automatically stand amended and there will be nothing for LAZ to challenge under this cause.
LAZ added that the essence of the injunction was to maintain the status quo until its petition was decided on merit.
It stated that in its petition, it outlined the impact of the decision to amend the constitution in the manner provided for in the said Bill.
“In fact in the petition, LAZ has outlined the impact on the Republic if the respondents are not restrained and allowed to implement their decision. There is no way or means of mitigating those loses financially that will be occasioned to the citizens that will be affected if the Bill becomes law. We submit that between the respondents and LAZ, LAZ will suffer more harm than the respondents if no injunction is granted,” LAZ stated.
It, however, stated that the court ignored those arguments when dismissing the application for an injunction.
LAZ submitted that justice Sitali ought to have explained how LAZ would still be in a position to defend the Constitution in the absence of the injunction.
It argued that the power of the National Assembly and the President to amend the Constitution was not in dispute, but added that the court was only being asked to postpone the implementation of the decision until the petition was determined.
“This is temporary restraint on the implementation to alter the Constitution as set out in the Bill,” stated LAZ which has, therefore, asked the full bench of the court to grant it an injunction against the respondents and for the same to subsist until after determination of its petition.