We appeal to members of parliament not to make any decision out of selfish interest, but to look beyond today and see the impact Bill 10 will have on the present and future generations, says Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Eddie Mwitwa.
And Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde has called on citizens to ensure that Bill 10 does not pass, insisting that it will be detrimental to democracy.
But Solicitor General Abraham Mwansa says he is grateful that the Constitutional Court has set the law straight that a Bill cannot be challenged.
On Friday, ConCourt dismissed the petitions by LAZ and Chapter One Foundation Limited which were challenging government’s decision to alter the Constitution of Zambia through constitution (Amendment) Bill 10 of 2019, for lacking merit.
The ConCourt ruled that it had no jurisdiction to question the contents of a Bill or to declare it unconstitutional.
Reacting to the judgement, Mwitwa said although he was disappointed that the outcome was not in their favour, as a body of lawyers, LAZ respected the court’s decision.
He, however, said the loss was not for LAZ but the people of Zambia, on whose behalf the association was challenging the Bill.
“We are disappointed that the decision did not go in our favour but we are a body of lawyers and as a body of lawyers, we respect decisions of the court. The Constitutional Court is the final court on matters of this nature so this essentially means the end of the road for our petition. This loss, is not a loss for LAZ. In my view its a loss for the people of Zambia because we were doing this for and on behalf of the people of Zambia,” Mwitwa said.
He prayed that parliamentarians would put an end to the Bill, saying members of parliament should look beyond today and see the impact of the Bill on the present and future generations.
“What’s next? In our view, the people of Zambia need to engage their members of parliament. What has happened is simply a decision from the court which has put an end to the process of challenging the decision to amend the Constitution. But the process in Parliament hasn’t come to an end. There is still a second reading to come. And for a Bill to pass, there is a requirement for 75 percent of the members of parliament to vote in favour. We call upon our members of parliament to listen to the voice of the majority of Zambians that have spoken in relation to this Bill and do what is in the interest of the people of Zambia,” Mwitwa said.
“We appeal, especially to members of parliament in the ruling party and also those from the opposition, not to make any decision out of any a selfish interest. They should look beyond today and see the impact that this Bill will have on the present and future generations. It is a Bill that must be stopped and we pray parliamentarians will put an end to it.”
And Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde called on citizens to ensure that Bill 10 does not pass.
“We respect the outcome of the judgememt. Judges have spoken, but it’s still incumbent on the citizenry to ensure that Bill No. 10 does not pass because it will be very detrimental to our democracy and to our rights and freedoms as citizens of this country. They (citizens) can speak to their MPs, they can show their displeasure on social media and any other legal means,” said Kasonde.
But the Solicitor General said he was grateful that the Constitutional Court had set the law straight that a Bill could not be challenged, as it was not Law.
“The Constitutional Court has set a precedent. This is a very good judgement, it is very good law. It gives us as practitioners jurisprudence to rely on in future. A Bill is not law, you can not challenge the Bill that is the main issue in this judgement. We are grateful that the Constitutional Court has set the law straight,” said Mwansa.
Meanwhile, NDC leader Chishimba Kambwili thanked the lawyers that tried to challenge the bill.
“Let me thank my sister Linda Kasonde and all the lawyers that appeared on behalf of the people of Zambia and let me thank LAZ and Chapter One Foundation for taking up this action. We should be patriotic. And this is a true action that speaks to patriotism in Zambia,” said Kambwili.
And civil rights activist Brebner Changala said it was a sad day for Zambia.
“It’s a sad day. There is no Zambian who has ever won a case in the Constitutional Court apart from the ruling party which established this court. I do not subscribe to what is going on. Bill number 10 does not represent the people of Zambia. It’s a criminal Bill presented in a PF Parliament to usurp power from the people of Zambia and put PF in power forever,” said Changala.