The Law Association of Zambia has lost an application for an injunction to stop Parliament from proceeding to enact the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019 while its petition is still before the Constitutional Court.
Four ConCourt judges ruled that the Bill can proceed but Judge Margaret Munalula dissented, saying this was a proper case deserving an injunction against the respondents until the main matter was heard.
How else could the judges have ruled on this matter after making their position absolutely clear to the public in their submission to parliament. The Judiciary appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee on September 25, this year, regarding the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019, and their position was made very clear about what they wanted from this bill. So this was expected.
We were in shock to hear this from the judiciary because as far as we knew, it had not happened anywhere in the world where judges submit themselves to a parliamentary committee to make submissions on a matter of dispute that is before their courts of law.
We said, since we are young, if this had happened in the past, our view was that it was totally wrong and it should not have been allowed to perpetuate.
We have always known that if judges have an issue on a matter, they make their position known in their judgment, like they did yesterday.
We were left confused by the move taken by the judges of Zambia because at that stage, we couldn’t see where the separation of powers stood. Our argument is that it is an absolute responsibility of Parliament to legislate laws, good or bad, and if anyone is aggrieved with the law or the proposals made in a Bill that is about to be enacted, that aggrieved person has the right to go to the other arm of government to seek intervention – the Judiciary.
We do not see anywhere in the Constitution where it says when a Bill is proposed, judges can go to Parliament to explain the consequences of that law.
Our question is simple, if the judges told parliament that there is nothing wrong with the proposals contained in Bill 10, how would they have U-turned during hearing for the Bill 10 dispute and rule against it?
Did the judges listen objectively to the arguments filed before their court, which disagree with their parliamentary submission?
We are not lawyers, but we were able to see this huge problem from a distance. One just had to use common sense; bias is not always about evidence; perception is enough to show that it exists. What we are seeing here is that our judges created a very dangerous perception of bias, which has only succeeded in making the whole Bill 10 debacle a complete mess.
Yes, Parliament has powers to create laws but it exercised its powers wrongly because this Bill 10 will completely alter the complexion of the entire Constitution. The only institution that could resolve this mess was the Judiciary, but unfortunately, the Judiciary surrendered itself to one party that was dragged to court, leaving the aggrieved party in a disadvantaged position.
We repeat, this is how nations fall; it starts with a small group of greedy people who don’t want to see an end to their rule, and as time goes by, the whole system gets coerced into the greedy agenda.