LEADER of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu has argued that the case where he is challenging Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini’s decision to allow continued consideration of Bill 10 despite it lasping does not raise any Constitutional issues.
Mwiimbu has submitted that the case is not in any way constitutional in nature as it is anchored on the established practice and procedure of the National Assembly, adding that therefore, the Constitutional Court does not have any jurisdiction to hear and determine the matters in contention.
Mwiimbu, who is also Monze Central UPND member of parliament, adds that the Speaker in making his decision to allow continued Bill 10 proceedings, was discharging a public function which is amenable to review by the Lusaka High Court.
In this matter, Mwiimbu has applied for leave in the Lusaka High Court to commence judicial review proceedings against Dr Matibini’s decision to allow the restoration to the order paper for consideration of Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019, consequently to allow its continued debate and allow the deferment of proceedings relating to the Bill to a yet to be advised date.
Mwiimbu who is represented by Lusaka lawyer Mulambo Haimbe of Malambo & Company has cited Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as a respondent, arguing that since the lapse of time, the Bill ceased to exist.
The State had, however, asked the court to dismiss the matter for want of jurisdiction.
Cecilia Sikatele, a deputy clerk of the National Assembly argued that the issues raised by Mwiimbu and the subsequent reliefs sought were wrongly before the Lusaka High Court because they raised matters of a Constitutional nature, which the High Court was incompetent to hear and determine.
She added that “I verily believe that the Constitutional Court is the proper court to be seized with this matter.”
But according to an Affidavit in reply filed in the Lusaka High Court recently, Mwiimbu submitted that the State’s argument that after deliberations, the standing orders’ committee resolved to extend the life of the Bill to a date not later than the last day of the current meeting, exposed the illegality of the Speaker’s decision to allow the continued consideration, debate or other proceedings relating to Bill 10 in so far as the State confirms that the standing orders committee purported to extend the life of the Bill on March 24, 2020.
Mwiimbu further argued that the standing orders do not give the standing orders’ committee any power to act in the manner that it purported to do contrary to what was deposed by the State.
“Contrary to what is stated by the State, this matter does not raise any Constitutional issues and therefore the Constitutional Court does not have any jurisdiction to hear and determine the matters in contention herein. Rather, it is the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow continued proceedings relating to the Bill despite it having lapsed that is in contention,” he submitted.
“The National Assembly is a public institution and that the Speaker in making his decision was discharging a public function which is amenable to review by this court.”
Meanwhile, High Court Judge Sharon Newa has reserved ruling after hearing arguments on both sides when the case came up in chambers yesterday.