Rueben Lifuka this morning argued with Justice Minister Given Lubinda, and charged that government breached Parliament procedure by initiating the ICC consultations without approval from the National Assembly as enshrined in the constitution.
And Lubinda observed that citizens were using the ICC consultation debate to vent their anger on the PF government.
Speaking when he called the ‘Let the people talk’ program on Radio Phoenix today which featured Lubinda, Lifuka who is former Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) president observed that the Justice Minister did not get Parliament approval before launching the consultation process.
“Minister, you said you went to Parliament to talk about the ICC issue and you made reference to the case of South Africa; I think the example is not correct. The order from South Africa which was made on 22nd February 2017, and I will read it ‘a cabinet decision to deliver the notice of withdrawal to the united nations secretary general without prior parliamentary approval is unconstitutional and invalid.’ In our case you are saying you went to Parliament, was that in itself a parliamentary approval? Because if you have given this example of ‘look at what happened in South Africa; in South Africa the courts ruled that it was unconstitutional and invalid to deliver the notice without parliamentary approval, just clarify that issue Minister,” Lifuka said.
“Minister can you also enlighten the Zambians as we debate, the fact that the AU has an open ended committee on ICC, and the open ended committee on ICC in its meeting on April 2016, came up with three conditions for remaining in ICC such as; (i)Immunity under the ICC Rome statue for seating Heads of State, heads of government, and senior government officials; (ii)The intervention of the ICC in cases involving African states only after those cases have been submitted to the AU or AU judicial institutions; (ii) Reduction in the powers of the ICC prosecutor. Are these issues on the table, because African Unions have these collective strategy among the Heads of State, is this debate also being taken into account that the collective strategy is based on these three conditions for remaining in ICC?”
In response, Lubinda said he did not have authority from Parliament to go and withdraw from the ICC but that he wanted the popular voices of ordinary Zambians to express their views freely.
Lubinda also said that he was instructed by cabinet to hold consultations on the subject matter.
“People should not use the ICC issue to vent their anger on government , all we want is for people to express their views freely. And I did not say that we went and got approval from parliament, I said that this matter was actually delivered to parliament before I launched it, I took the matter to parliament after cabinet instructed me to do the consultations. I did not skip the important institution of parliament. I went to parliament and explained and the only people who contributed to the debate were MPs from the ruling party. There was not a single one from the opposition,” he said.
“Based on that, I felt that I was fortified with the decision of cabinet to go and consult and seek the views of the people. I did not say that parliament gave me the authority to go and withdraw! That I didn’t talk about because I did indicate that had we taken that route! Champions of consultations, champions of democracy, and champions of popular participation would have come to say President Lungu already had an opinion and that is the reason he went to parliament where he knew he had an inbuilt majority. I referred to the South African case to indicate that it is possible for state parties to be challenged when they make decisions.”
Lubinda further revealed that the decision to hold consultations was arrived at after various complaints from people that the ICC disregarded the immunity of seating African Presidents which was one of the conditions which the open ended committee of the AU on ICC had also raised.
“Second is that this ICC is targeting African countries. This matter has been discussed by the AU way back as 2016. and the fact that this matter was discussed in April 2016 and then in January 2017, Heads of States of the AU, the one under which the open ended committee on the ICC seats, they themselves came and said now is the time for us to start talking about withdrawing. It seems therefore that the issues that were raise in the April 2016 meeting of the open ended committee on ICC have fallen on deaf ears as far as those presidents are concerned. This is the reason why they came up with this non-binding resolution,” said Lubinda.