Justice Minister Given Lubinda says he will not be lured into giving his opinion on why Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini decided to halt the Impeachment Bill on account of it being in court but refused to halt the Constitution Amendment Bill.
And Lubinda has challenged leader of the opposition in the House Jack Mwiimbu to substantiate his claims that there is no guarantee that public submissions to Bill 10 are unlikely to be considered.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says while some people were paid to speak at Intercontinental Hotel, making submissions to the Parliamentary Committee on Bill 10 was absolutely free.
Asked to explain why the impeachment motion was halted in Parliament on account that some impeachment grounds were in court, yet the same could not be done on Bill take which the Law Association of Zambia has taken to court, Lubinda said he neither supervised Parliament nor the Judiciary to explain the issue.
“Is it me who wrote that letter? So why are you asking me? My role is not to judge actions of people. Do you know anything about the separation of powers? So how can you ask me a matter between the judiciary which is independent of the executive and Parliament which is also independent from the executive? Why do you want to get me involved in a matter [involving] two institutions [which] are independent? What is your agenda? Who am I to say this one is wrong or right? Or you want to create an impression that the Speaker of the National Assembly consulted the executive when he made that decision? You know, I don’t have answers to that question so don’t ask me. I am not a supervisor of either the Judiciary or Parliament, I am not going to play in the hands of people who are going to say that ‘Parliament has been compromised by the Executive. Don’t put words in people’s mouth, it is wrong. I don’t want you to say Lubinda was defending Parliament. So that you say ‘you see we have been telling you’,” Lubinda said.
And Lubinda wondered why Mwiimbu was a member of parliament if he believed Zambia’s parliamentary system was weak.
He was reacting to Mwiimbu’s remarks that citizens would be wasting their time to make submissions to a parliamentary select committee because there was no guarantee that they would be incorporated into the final document.
“You are talking about his opinion. Ask him if the parliamentary system in Zambia is weak how come you have been a member of parliament for 18 years. When he considers parliament a weak institution. Ask him if it is about the money. Don’t drag me in his issues I don’t want to go in conflict with him over his own opinion. Mr Speaker appointed a Select Committee of parliamentarians whom he gave instructions to receive views from citizens starting from the 2nd of September to the 27th of September that is almost one full month. And their views can be expressed on the whole Constitution Amendment Bill or on specific amendments,” Lubinda said.
“I would like to say that the sanctity of these institutions depends on us citizens on how we treat them. Do we as citizens expect the institutions that we created for ourselves as governance institutions? If we don’t, then we should know that we are creating challenges of governance for ourselves. These are institutions created by the constitution of the land and therefore deserve to be respected and treated with the decorum it deserves,”
Meanwhile, Lubinda said submissions to the proposed constitution amendment bill were free, unlike some people who were being paid to speak at discussions forums held at Intercontinental Hotel.
“I have always said in a democratic state such as Zambia, we have laid down procedures for enacting laws including amending the republican constitutions. Every citizen is at liberty to propose an amendment to the constitution. The government is also mandated to propose amendments to the constitution. However, before that is done, the provisions of article 79 of the constitution that we followed, states that before any amendments is presented for first reading in parliament, it must be published in the government gazette for one month. Article 79 says parliament will not proceed before hearing submission from members of the public,” said Lubinda.
“So my appeal to citizens is that ; please while you keep talking about the Constitution Amendment Bill in your homes, your offices, in your meetings in your clubs, wherever you are talking about them, if you want them to be heard, please let them be heard by you presenting them to the Select Committee of Parliament. You don’t even have to pay to go and appear. Like people are paying to go and talk at Intercontinental Hotel. You don’t have to wear a suit, you don’t have to go and speak in English. You just go and you will be heard. Yes, we are listening to the views through talk shows, on radio, on Television and newspapers but that is not enough! What is conclusive is to go and make your views known to the committee.”