We wish to categorically state the purported gazetting of the amendments to the National Assembly Bill No. 10 are illegal, contemptuous and are in breach of parliamentary procure.
Fellow citizens, you may wish to note that immediately following the issuance of the Gazette Notice, the Minister of Justice held a press briefing during which he presented the illegal amendments to the public, on which occasion he stated, inter alia, that he was “shocked to hear renewed skepticism on Bill 10 despite having given confidence to everyone that the parliamentary select committee recommendations would be incorporated in the new Constitution.” The question that begs an answer is which new Constitution?
Fellow citizens, it is self-evident from the foregoing that government through the Minister of Justice’s intent is to either mislead the general public that parliamentary process allows for a Bill that is before the House to be amended in the manner proposed in the Gazette or to attempt to place the illegal amendments before the House for consideration upon resumption of the debate on the controversial bill.
Either way, fellow citizens, the modus operandi employed by the Minister of Justice is not only illegal, given the rules that govern the proceedings of the House and given that Bill 10 is now at second reading stage, but is also contemptuous of the House.
To buttress the issues raised earlier under Article 77 of the Constitution of Zambia as amended by the Constitution (Amendment) Act No.2 of 2016, the National Assembly shall regulate its own procedure and make Standing Orders for the conduct of its business. Any process undertaken in relation to parliamentary business must thus be in accordance with the Standing Orders , failing which such process shall be null and void by reason of illegality.
In this instance, the issuance of the Gazette Notice and illegal amendments is not supported by any provisions of the rules and regulations governing the conduct of parliamentary business as there is no provision of the law that provides for such.
More specifically, fellow abused citizens, the illegal amendments do not accord with the procedure prescribed under Standing Order No. 103 which prohibits any changes to the contents of any bill, except following debate and consideration at second reading stage and in the case of a bill relating to the amendment of the Constitution only after the initial two thirds majority has been garnered to open debate. The illegal amendments are clearly aimed at circumventing this important constitutional safeguard and should not be entertained.
Further, the illegal amendments violate the procedures prescribed in Standing Orders 108 to 112 in which it is clearly provided that amendments at the committee stage following debate and voting at second reading and not before. Fellow abused citizens, the government and Honourable Lubinda are well aware of the process and therefore must be deemed to have deliberately sought to bring the processes of the National Assembly into disrepute when they issued the Gazette Notice and the illegal amendments and subsequent procedure via the above mentioned press briefing, to misrepresent to the public in general that the illegal amendments would be subject to consideration by the House when debate on Bill 10 resumes.
This cannot be entertained as it amounts to willful disregard of the Standing Orders and established parliamentary procedure.
We wish to earnestly appeal to all well-meaning citizens of this lovely country to ignore with the contempt it deserves all the mischievous and misleading statements made by Honourable Lubinda, Minister of Justice, on the illegal amendments to National Assembly Bill No. 10 of 2019.
We also wish to inform the national that our position on Bill No. 10 has not changed. We shall not support Bill No.10 when it’s brought back for second reading. We join the Catholic Bishops and other Churches and civic leaders who are demanding for the withdrawal of the Bill.
At this stage, we will not discuss the merits or demerits of the amendments but to state that the proposed amendments are illegal as they fall short of the procedures required under the Standing Orders of Parliament.