PF secretary general Davies Mwila says giving the Legislature authority to oversee the performance of the Executive functions is against the fundamental principal of the doctrine of the separation of powers.
And the PF submitted that the proposal to amend the system on voting for the President to include the possibility of forming a coalition government was not supported.
Making a submission before the parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019, Mwila said the principal of separation of powers must be respected at all times.
“While we recognize the watchdog role that the Legislature plays on the Executive arm of government, we strongly believe that in a democracy, the principal of separation of powers must be respected at all times. The doctrine of separation of powers entails that a government is divided into three arms namely: the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary whose powers and responsibilities are separate and must not be conflicted,” Mwila submitted.
“It is, therefore, our strong belief that giving the Legislature authority to oversee the performance of the Executive functions is in fact against the fundamental principal of the doctrine of the separation of powers, which is a cornerstone of every democratic governance system.”
Mwila said the Legislature had no mandate to control the Executive and recommended that the word, “oversee,” in Article 63 (2) be replaced with the words: “provide checks and balances.”
The Legislature has no mandate to control the Executive, theirs is to provide checks and balances on the Executive, and we wish to categorically state that offering ‘checks and balances’ must not be confused with overseeing the functions of the government as these connotate two different meanings,” Mwila argued.
“We recommend that the word, oversee, in Article 63 (2) be replaced with the words: ‘provide checks and balances.’ The new wording of this clause should, therefore, read as follows: 63. (2) The National Assembly shall ‘provide checks and balances’ in the performance of executive functions.”
The PF submitted that the proposal to amend the system on voting for the President to include the possibility of forming a coalition government was not supported.
He acknowledged that coalition governments the world-over had proven to be often unstable and chaotic.
“The proposal to amend the system on voting of the President to include the possibility of forming of a coalition government is not supported. In that regard, Articles 101 and 102 are to remain as they appear in the current Constitution. It is our firm belief that the President should draw his or her mandate directly from the majority of the people. Furthermore, the coalition governments world-over have proven to be often unstable and chaotic, hence posing a serious risk to national unity and security,” he added.
And he submitted that the words “multi-religious” be retained, saying Zambia remained a multi-religious society.
“As Patriotic Front, we fully support Zambia’s declaration as a Christian nation. However, we are alive to the fact that Zambia is a multi-religious society. Therefore, we submit that the words ‘multi religious’ be retained. Further, the proposal contained in Article 4 of the Amendment Bill to include the word: ‘Christian’ in the description of the Republic must be removed. We, therefore, submit that the Preamble, Article 4 (3) and Article 8 of the Constitution must remain as they are. The Bill of Rights, which still protects the freedom to religion and conscience, is adequately guaranteed,” Mwila submitted.
The PF submitted that they supported the proposal to amend 103 to increase the time for hearing of a presidential petition from 14 to 30 days.
“As a party, we support the proposal to amend Article 103 and in particular to increase the time for the hearing of a Presidential election petition from 14 to 30 days. This will afford the parties ample time to present their respective cases. Equally, this will afford the courts adequate time to deal with the matters,” PF submitted.
Mwila said that the ruling party was committed to a lean government, adding that they did not support the proposals to amend Articles 112 and include a new Article 117A to create the office of a deputy minister.
Mwila added that the proposal to amend Article 116 by the inclusion of a new sub-article 4 to entitle Ministers to continue holding office until a new government was elected is supported, saying this would enable the Executive wing of government continue performing its functions without any lacuna or disruption.
The PF also submitted that the proposal to amend Article 127 by the inclusion of the Chief Justice as a member of the Constitutional Court was supported and that the party agreed that the two courts should continue to exist as separate and independent courts under the leadership of the Chief Justice.
They further submitted that the party proposed that the period in which a civil servant is required to cease being a civil servant before seeking election to political office be reduced from two years to six months was supported with variation.