The Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini says the House will proceed to consider the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019 despite the matter being before the Constitutional Court.
Responding to a letter from Simeza Sangwa and Associates, who asked the House to halt proceedings given that the matter had been petitioned before the Constitutional Court, Clerk of the National Assembly Doris Kapumba stated that the debates would continue on account of the doctrine of exclusive cognizance which provided that the House enjoyed exclusive and unfettered jurisdiction in the conduct of its internal proceedings.
Kapumba stated that the Speaker had elected to exercise his discretion to allow consideration of Bill 10 by the House.
“In your letter of even reference you requested the honourable Mr Speaker to make an undertaking that, in view of the Petition, the National Assembly would not, whilst the matter was pending before the Constitutional Court, continue with the legislative process. I have been directed to advise that the Honourable Mr Speaker is unable to make the undertaking requested on account of the doctrine o0f exclusive cognizance. The doctrine provides, in essence, that the House enjoys exclusive and unfettered jurisdiction in the conduct of its internal proceedings. Further, please note that the application of the sub judice rule to the business of the National Assembly is not absolute. It has to be decided by the Speaker on the merits of each case. In the circumstances, the Honourable Mr Speaker has elected to exercise his discretion to allow consideration of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill NO.10 of 2019 by the Select Committee and eventually the House,” read the letter.
The Clerk stated that the Bill in question was presented to the House for First Reading on Friday 2nd August adding that LAZ was one of the professional bodies that had been invited to make submissions to the committee on the Bill.
“The Bill in question was presented for First Reading on Friday, 2nd august, 2019. As you are aware, at First Reading Stage, a Bill is introduced in the House by a Minister or a Private member setting out the objectives of the Bill. After a Bill has been read for the first time, it stands referred to an appropriate Committee for detailed consideration. In this case, the Honourable Mr Speaker, referred the bill to a Select Committee comprising 15 Members of Parliament whose membership is as follows: PF-6, UPND-5, MMD-1, FDD-1, Independents-2,” read the letter.
“The Committee, at its first meeting held on 6th August, 2019, identified 56 witnesses from a cross section of society, including religious groupings, political parties, civil society organisations and professional bodies. The witnesses have since been invited to make submissions to the Committee on the Bill. Additionally, a whole day has been allocated to members of the public to also make submissions on the Bill. You may wish to note that your client, LAZ, is one of the professional bodies invited to make submissions on the Bill and is scheduled to appear before the committee on Tuesday, 17th September, 2019. Once the Committee completes obtaining views from the various stakeholders and members of the public, it will compile a report. The Committee will, thereafter, present its report to the House during the Second Reading Stage. Thereafter, the Bill may progress to Committee Stage.”