JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says government has no intention of pushing an amendment to Article 128 because it is not the source of conflict between the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court.
And Lubinda says he does not want to talk about calls for the full withdrawal or a referendum to test Bill 10’s popularity because they are a “dead issue” which may end up giving him maggots.
Reacting to calls from his predecessor Wynter Kabimba that the Executive should push the amendment of Article 128 of the 2016 Constitution as it remained a source of conflict between the Speaker and the ConCourt, Lubinda said Article 128 did not state that only the Constitutional Court could interpret the law.
He said in fact, everyone had powers to interpret the constitution but that only the ConCourt could make final, binding decisions whenever disputes arose.
“This is a non-issue, it is totally a non-issue! You don’t have to be a constitutional lawyer to understand what Article 128 is talking about. Article 128 does not say that, ‘no one else in the country, no one in the world can interpret the Constitution except the Constitutional Court’, it doesn’t say that. If that was the case, will people have copies of the Constitution? It will mean that nobody is allowed to even read the Constitution. What Article 128 sub-Article (1) says is that, ‘when there is a matter of conflict on interpretation, then the Constitutional Court will be the final one. If there is a difference in opinion between you and me on what a particular article says, where we will go for final interpretation? It is to the Constitutional Court. It does not say that, ‘you are not allowed to interpret the Constitution.’ Everyone has the power to interpret and we can interpret it differently,” Lubinda said.
“For example, the national values and principles, you will read that article and you interpret it in the way you understand it. I will read it and interpret it in the manner that I understand it. If there is a conflict between you and me on the interpretation, where will we go for us to arrive at an amicable position? We will go to the Constitutional Court. So, there is no problem at all with Article 128 paragraph (a), there is nothing. Paragraph (a) of Article 128 is very clear that a matter of interpretation should be addressed by the Constitutional Court. It does not say, ‘for anyone to interpret this Constitution, they must go to the Constitutional Court’.”
He added that no stakeholders, including the Judiciary, proposed an amendment to the said article in their submissions.
“This is all the reason why all those who made the submissions, including the Judiciary to the refinement of the Constitution, none of them brought the issue of (Article) 128 because Article 128 is very clear. There is no dispute. I don’t understand why anyone could think there is a dispute. You must also understand the reference that was made by the Constitutional Court was done, by the way, that was not the main finding. It was not that the Constitutional Court said, ‘the Speaker must not interpret,’ they didn’t say, ‘the Speaker must not.’ If you read their judgement, they just said, ‘by the way, it appears as though that the Speaker has over-stepped.’ There is nothing whatsoever which is a contradiction in Article 128 as far as I am concerned,” he argued.
And Lubinda insisted that widespread calls for the full withdrawal or a referendum on Bill 10 were a “dead issue”.
“That is a very tired argument! That argument is very tired. It is just an argument, which is reaching rigor mortis. It is just a dead argument, we shouldn’t go back to that. We already made it clear that, number one, there is no basis on which to withdraw Bill 10. Number two, there is no provision within the Constitution that says that, ‘if you want to amend the Constitution, you have to go to the referendum,’ it is not there anywhere! The reason why we did not address the Bill of Rights is because that is the one that requires a referendum. So, that is a dead story, it is in the mortuary. Don’t resurrect dead issues, that is a dead issue, bring in new issues,” Lubinda said.
“The opposition that are trying to cling to a dead corpse shows that they have nothing to talk about, they are also exhausted! Even a tick can see that a cow is dead, it moves on to fresh blood, not to clotted blood. That matter is in the mortuary, leave it there. The issue of withdrawing, the issue of referendum that is dead! Let us wait for the ruling of the Court on Jack Mwiimbu’s petition to the Court for judicial review, let us wait for what the Court will say. They went to court, the Court said, ‘you have no right to ask the Court to stop Parliament.’ So, isn’t that dead? So, don’t take me to a dead issue, I may end up getting magots! I don’t want to get maggots, I want to continue with fresh and clean hands.”