LEADER of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu has vowed that UPND is ready to take appropriate legal action against any illegality in the Constitution amendment process.
And Mwiimbu has disagreed with Government Parliamentary Chief Whip Brian Mundubile, who told a media briefing, Thursday, that the Standing Orders Committee has powers to change its own rules, saying that committee cannot override Parliament.
In an interview, Mwiimbu insisted that Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 was no longer on the floor of the House because it lapsed three weeks ago and that the only way to take it back to Parliament was through a fresh process.
“Let me make it very clear: on the part of UPND, as far as we are concerned, there is no Bill 10 that is before the House. Bill Number 10 lapsed on the 4th of June, 2020, it, therefore, means that there cannot be any deferment of debating of the Bill on the floor of the House. The most logical and prudent thing that has to be done on the part of the Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) is to start afresh in this process of constitution-making. We are not going to allow illegality to be practiced on the floor of the House,” Mwiimbu said.
“And we, as UPND, will not allow that to happen and we will not be part and parcel of whatever illegality they want to evoke. I am a member of the Standing Orders Committee myself; I can tell you that we objected very strongly to that. That was illegal, and they haven’t even brought it to the attention of the House for the House to make a decision. Standing orders is just a committee of Parliament; it does not override the functions of Parliament itself. So, we can assure you that, as UPND, we will not allow illegality to happen. We will evoke our rights in this situation to take any appropriate legal action against this process.”
And Mwiimbu disputed Mundubile’s assertions that the Standing Orders Committee had powers to change its own rules.
“Now that Honourable Mundubile has disclosed what transpired in the Standing Orders Committee, I would like to respond as follows: only Lubinda had requested Parliament to defer the Bill to a date after 30th June, Parliament responded to him and advised him that if you defer to after 30th June, the Bill would have been killed and there would be no Bill on the floor of the House. And as you may be aware, when people are trying to be mischievous in whatever they are trying to do, they are not methodical, they forgot that the Bill was not lapsing on the 30th of June, but it was lapsing on the 4th of June. So, even when the Standing Orders Committee was meeting yesterday (Wednesday), the Bill had already lapsed. So, there is no way Parliament can renew a Bill that has lapsed,” said Mwiimbu.
“The Standing Orders have no powers to do that! They don’t have the power. You ask him (Mundubile), which provision of laws authorizes Standing Orders to extend the life span of a Bill, there is none. The issue here is that PF is desperate; they want the Bill to come to Parliament and they’re trying to use COVID-19. If you want to use the issues of COVID-19, there are supposed to be other procedures, which they should have involved. Otherwise, the rules don’t allow. We are members of parliament that were sworn-in to defend the Constitution and the Standing Orders of Parliament. We cannot be seen to be in the forefront to violate the rules of the House just to please one political party, we cannot do that.”