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UPND’s attempt to block Bill 10 dismissed

By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA

UPND’s attempts to block Constitutional Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019 from being debated in Parliament has again failed.

This was after the Lusaka High Court dismissed Monze Central MP Jack Mwiimbu’s application to direct the Speaker of the National Assembly to stop deliberations in relation to the bill.

In this case, the leader of the Opposition in Parliament had applied to commence judicial review proceedings against the decision of the Speaker, Dr Patrick Matibini to allow debate on Bill 10 to continue.

Mr Mwiimbu had contended that the Bill lapsed on June 4 this year and cited Attorney General Likando Kalaluka as a respondent.

Mr Mwiimbu’s lawyer, Mr Mulambo Haimbe argued that there was clearly a question as to the procedural propriety.

He said there was no legality and reasonableness in the manner in which the Speaker proceeded to make the impugned decision of June 24, this year when the Bill had lapsed by that date.

However, in her ruling yesterday, Justice Sharon Newa said her jurisdiction in the matter has been busted on account of the exclusive cognizance given to the National Assembly by Section 34 of the National Assembly Act.

Section 34 states that neither the Assembly, the Speaker nor any officer shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise of any power conferred on or vested in the Assembly, the Speaker or such officer by or under the Constitution, ruling Orders and this Act.

She said the Speaker was protected from any court action where he exercises his powers under the internal procedure of the National Assembly.

Justice Newa explained that the Speaker would only be amenable to such court action if in the exercise of that power, there was alleged breach of the constitution.

She said the Constitutional Court by virtue of article 128 (1) of the Constitution is the court that is vested with jurisdiction to deal with such matters.

Justice Newa also said that if she had jurisdiction to interrogate the exercise of the Speaker’s powers pursuant to the internal practices and procedures of the National Assembly, it would ultimately involve the interpretation of the Constitution from which the said powers are derived.

“On that basis, I find that this is not a case that is fit for further investigation, and I accordingly decline to grant leave to commence judicial review proceedings, and dismiss the matter.

“Looking at the fact that matter seeks to enforce matters of national interest, I order that each party bears their own cost of the application. Leave to appeal is granted,” Justice Newa said.

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