Minister of Justice Given Lubinda says he has no powers to withdraw the Constitution Amendment Bill from Parliament.
And Lubinda says it is an insult for Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo to allege that he is trying to sneak bills into Parliament without following procedure.
Last Friday, Nkombo said the UPND would not allow Lubinda to sneak the Electoral Processes Bill and Public Order Act Bill in parliament without following the laid down procedure
But in an interview, Lubinda said only Zambians could withdraw the Constitution Amendment Bill from parliament, not him.
“I have no power to withdraw it, the people of Zambia have the power through Parliament. If you read the National Dialogue Forum Act, I think it is section 13 or 18, I can’t remember, it states very clearly that the NDF will adopt the amendment Bill to the Constitution, the Public Order Act, the Electoral Process Act and the Political Party Bills. And that within 30 days, the respective ministers will present those amendment bills to parliament, that is what the law says. The law does not say the Minister of Justice would determine whether to submit or withdraw it. No! It says the ministers will submit these bills to parliament for possible enactment. So if there is any institution that has the power to concede the bill, it is Parliament. It is as clear as that. The trouble is that people do not want to read. I am not the author of the Constitution Amendment Bill, it was written by the NDF, there were more than 400 people who were at the NDF. It is not the product of the Minister of Justice,” Lubinda said.
“So I have no say in the matter! If there are any people who want to change anything in those bills, they are welcome. Let them go and convince Parliament, you don’t pay to go to Parliament, it is free of charge. You just go and take your submissions if there are people that want bills withdrawn, they must not trouble themselves and spend sleepless nights thinking ‘how to convince the justice Minister’ no! If I was [not] going to present the Constitution Amendment Bill to Parliament, I will be committing an offence against the NDF Act, it is as straightforward as that. So I would like to encourage all of you who want the Constitution amendment bill not to proceed in Parliament, to go to Parliament and make your views known. For me as justice Minister, I am going to do what is provided for in the law. And the NDF act number one of 2019 compels me to present the constitution Amendment Bill to Parliament after publishing it for 30 days. I published it for 30 days following the law, what is next is to present it to Parliament.”
Meanwhile, Lubinda challenged assured Nkombo that everything he was doing was according to the law.
“You can tell Gary Nkombo that for me, I am simply abiding by the law, I never do things outside the confines of the law and he is at liberty to do what he wants to do with his political career. But he doesn’t have the liberty to accuse me of breaking any procedure. I have been in Parliament longer than him, I know the procedure of Parliament extremely well and besides that, as minister of government, I am guided by my officer and there is no time at all when we conducted ourselves against the provisions of the law,” said Lubinda.
“And he must explain to you what he means when he says’ he is going to stop me from sneaking in bills against the procedure of said’. What does he mean? That is an insult to said because he is assuming that Mr Speaker (Patrick Matibini) will allow me to do things that are unprocedural. That is not fair for him to say things like that. All businesses of parliament are managed by the Speaker, not by the Minister of Justice.”