Lubinda misleading the nation over the Constitution Amendment Bill – Chipenzi
By Staff Reporter
GOVERNMENT is displaying signs of carefree, arrogance, bullying and bulldozing over the national dialogue and constitution making processes, says McDonald Chipenzi.
And Chipenzi said Justice minister Given Lubinda was misleading himself and the nation by suggesting that the Constitution Amendment bill did not need two thirds vote of the members of the National Assembly to be passed.
Chipenzi who is the chairman for the Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CSCA) has accused Lubinda of exhibiting dangerous traits in a maturing democracy like Zambia by insisting that government would go ahead with the constitution amendment process through parliament.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Chipenzi stated it was unfortunate that a Minister of Justice could pride himself in excluding others instead of being in the forefront to reconcile the antagonists to sit around the ‘dialogue table’ and urge them to participate in the constitution and dialogue processes.
“Like he rightly observed in his statement, the major stakeholder in the dialogue process was ruling PF not the government per-se however, his statement speaks contrary to that assertion. It is like the Justice Minister spoke, not as a minister in government, but as a ruling party representative hence, making it hard to differentiate between the party position and that of government,” he said.
“Our appeal to the Minister is to let government encourage stakeholders pre-engagement meetings before the constitution and dialogue processes are undertaken,” he appealed.
He said the Minister’s assertions that the proposed constitution amendment does not need a two third majority in parliament and that the PF members can do without the opposition, is an insensitive statement which is a recipe to courting failure.
“We want to remind the Minister of Justice not to mislead the nation and himself on the threshold to pass any constitution amendment required by the law currently. Unless he meant the amendment to the Public Order Act which does not need the two third majority, the Constitution cannot be amendment without the support of the two third majority of the members of the National Assembly,” he cautioned.
Chipenzi said Article 79 of the Constitution of Zambia States that “subject to the provision of this Article, Parliament may alter this constitution or the Constitution of Zambia Act” before adding that “Subarticle 2 of article 79 stresses that, Subject to clause (3) a bill for the alteration of this constitution or the Constitution of Zambia Act shall not be passed unless;
- a) not less than thirty days before the first reading of the bill in the National Assembly, the text of the bill is published in the Gazette; and
- b) the bill is supported on second and third readings by the votes of not less than two thirds of all members of the Assembly” he quotes.
He said in view of this, he wondered where the Minister found the argument that government does not need a two third majority to amend the Republican Constitution.
“We advise our Justice Minister to extensively seek the services of the Attorney General on such matters to avoid misleading the nation and the general citizenry,” he said.