Former NGOCC chairperson Sara Longwe has testified before the Constitutional Court that she does not support Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No. 10 because the process leading to its drafting was not all inclusive and, therefore, it does not represent the will of the people.
In this matter, 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.
They cited Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as a respondent in the matter.
When the matter came before seven judges of the Constitutional Court, Thursday, Chapter One Foundation, through its lawyer Linda Kasonde, called its second witness, Sara Longwe who testified that she does not support Bill 10 of 2019 because its contents abrogate the Constitution.
She added that she does not support the Bill because the process leading to its drafting was not all-inclusive and, therefore, does not represent the will of the people.
Longwe told the Court that contents of Bill 10 were suggestions from the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), which was a selected group of people and not all-inclusive.
She said the mandate of the NDF was to clean up lacunas in the Constitution, but to her surprise, the outcome of the forum included reforms to the Constitution as amended in 2016.
Longwe further told the Court that what was contained in the Bill contradicted what the citizenry had said in the draft Constitution that was presented to Parliament and enacted in 2019.
The witness gave an example of the bringing back of Deputy Ministers, which was rejected by the people and also the the issue of coalition government.
Longwe said she was surprised that the outcome of the NDF included substantive changes to the Constitution instead of removing lacunas in the document as the scope given to the gathering.
And in cross-examination, the State asked Longwe whether she was aware that prior to the NDF, the Ministry of Justice invited members of the public, stockholders and civil society organizations to make submissions on the refinement of the Constitution, to which Longwe said she was aware, but maintained that the process was not all-inclusive as government should have consulted the people in villages, districts and provinces.
Asked if she maintained that the consultative process for the Constitution amendment process was not inclusive, Longwe stood her ground that different categories of citizens were not part of the process.
At this point, Chapter One closed its case.
The State is today expected to bring its witnesses to testify in the matter.
Earlier, the Court warned of stern action against people who wanted to cause confusion when attending court sessions.
This was after Attorney General Likando Kalaluka informed the Court that some suspected UPND cadres allegedly harassed a potential State witness.
“After the Court had risen (on Wednesday), I walked out of the Court and started discussing with one of the potential witnesses the State wants to call. After concluding the discussion with the potential witness, I got into my car and drove off. It was at this point that suspected UPND cadres allegedly assaulted and harassed the State’s potential witness. I thought I should bring this to the Court’s attention so that it can perhaps caution the people in the gallery resorting to such actions,” said Kalaluka .
In her ruling, Constitutional Court president Hildah Chibomba said members of the public were expected to respect the Court and behave in an appropriate manner when attending court.
She condemned the conduct of the alleged UPND cadres, and warned that the Court would not condone anarchy at court premises.
“We hope that the alleged incident has been reported to the police so that culprits are brought to book. We warn members of the public to always conduct themselves properly as we shall not hesitate to punish those who want to cause confusion. This is a stern warning for you all,” warned the Court.