…says it is in breach of procedures for making laws in Zambia
By Scoop Reporter
Read full statement here:
LAZ PRESS STATEMENT DATED 15TH IUNE 2O2O ON THE PUBLICATION IN THE GOVERNMENT GAZETTE NO. 534 OF 2O2O OF THE CONSTITUTION AMENDMENT BILL NO. 1.0 OF 2019 WITH AMENDMENTS BY GOVERNMENT IN BREACH OF PROCEDURES FOR MAKING LAWS IN ZAMBIA
The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is deeply concerned by the publication in the Government Gazette No. 534 of 2020 dated 12th June 2020 of the Constitution
Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019 which contains numerous proposed amendments to the Republican Constitution which are different from the original Bill published in Gazette Notice No. 660 of Friday, 21 June, 2019 preceding its presentation in Parliament for First reading on Friday, 2nd August, 2019.
This is concerning to LAZ as the newly published amendments do not form part of the Bill as introduced at first reading in Parliament by Government and its publication in the gazette may only serve to sway public opinion on the Bill without guaranteeing its enactment and its re-publication is not supported by law.
LAZ has perused the Standing orders 2016, which regulate the procedure of the National Assembly and its conduct of business including stages of a Bill.
According to the Standing Orders 2016, a Bill to amend the Constitution cannot be passed unless at least thirty days before the first reading of the Bill in the
Assembly, the text of the Bill is published in the Gazette and the Bill is supported on second and third readings by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the Assembly. When a Bill has been read the first time, it is committed to an appropriate committee for examination and at second reading, parliament proceeds to consider the Bill taking into account the report of the Committee.
The Committee of the National Assembly reports to the whole House and itis only the Committee which has power to propose an amendment to a Bill for consideration of the whole House. Procedure for amendments to Bills is clearly spelt out in the Standing Orders.
LAZ therefore finds it strange and concerning that before the Committee on Bill No’ 10 of 2019 could report to the whole House, together with its proposed amendments thereon for debate during second reading of the Bill, the Government has opted to accept some of the Committee’s recommendations and reject many others and publish another version of the same Bill containing what Government considers acceptable.
It is LAZ’s position that there is no procedure which permits Government to publish in the Government Gazette different texts of a Bill to amend the Constitution which is already going through the stages as established by Standing Orders promulgated under Article 77 of the Constitution of Zambia.
Government cannot cherry pick what it considers desirable proposals of a Committee and reject numerous others and publish the same purporting to form part of the Bill.
In the event that Government supports some of the proposed amendments by the Committee, it must support the same on the floor of the House during the debate at second reading at which event a vote will be called, requiring the support of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the Assembly, for the Bill to progress to third reading.
If Government agrees with numerous stakeholders including LAZ that Bill No. 10 of 2019 is retrogressive, as the publishing of another version of the same Bill appears to suggest, it must withdraw the current Bill No. 10 of 2019 from Parliament in its entirety and not present the purported Amended Bill No. 10 of 2019 in Parliament.
Doing otherwise will be a serious breach of the Republican Constitution and will not be in tandem with the rule of law, upon which LAZ was founded and mandated to promote and protect.
ISSUED COUNCIL OF THE LAW ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA
16 June 2020