THE Attorney General has argued that the President, as head of the executive, is mandated to conduct executive functions including assenting of bills until the President-elect is sworn in.
And the Attorney General has said that President Edgar Lungu did not contravene the law when he assented to a bill after the dissolution of Parliament.
This is a matter in which Chapter One Foundation has petitioned the Constitutional Court and cited President Lungu as the respondent, arguing that his legislative authority to assent to Bills passed by the National Assembly expired after the dissolution of Parliament.
But President Lungu was later removed as respondent in the matter and replaced with the Attorney General who had earlier asked to join the proceedings.
According to the answer filed in the Constitutional Court, the state argued that the President is mandated, pursuant to Article 66(1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution, to either assent a bill presented before him within 21 days after receipt if the bill.
They argued that in the alternative, the President may refer the Bill to the National Assembly for reconsideration, indicating any reservations that the President has concerning the Bill.
The AG said he shall aver that where the President does not assent to a bill within the prescribed period, the bill shall be considered assented and further noted that the President assented the bill within the prescribed period even though Parliament was dissolved at the time.
The state further denied the contents of petition and stated that the President did not contravene Articles 81(8) and 92(2) as alleged.
“The respondent shall aver that where parliament is dissolved, the President, the head of the executive is mandated, until the President-elect assumes office, to continue to perform executive functions. The respondent shall aver that the President is mandated to perform other functions specified by the constitution or as prescribed pursuant to Article 92(2)(h). One such other function is the assent to bills as specified by the constitution itself and the acts if Parliament Act Chapter 3 of the laws of Zambia,” the answer read.
He further stated that the petitioner is not entitled to the reliefs prayed for or at all.
In this matter, Chapter One Foundation is seeking a conservatory order staying the operation of the Zambia Correctional Service Act No.37 of 2021 and restoring the Prisons Act Chapter 97 of the laws until after the determination of the petition.
The foundation is further seeking a declaration that to the extent that the Zambia Correctional Service Bill No.35 of 2021 was assented by the President after the dissolution of Parliament on May 13, the Zambia Correctional Service Act No.37 of 2021 is not law or legislation enacted by the Parliament of the Republic of Zambia and therefore null and void.
Chapter One Foundation has further sought an order of certiorari that Zambia Correctional Service Act No 37 of 2021 be removed forthwith into the Constitutional Court for purposes of quashing.