Syakalima petitions High Court to suspend operation of NDF

By Staff Reporter

CHIRUNDU UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima has filed a petition in the Lusaka High Court, seeking an order to suspend the operation of the National Dialogue Forum Act No 1 of 2019.

In his petition filed by lawyers C.L Mundia and Company and Muleza, Mwiimbu and Company, Syakalima who has sued the Attorney General, is seeking an order of interim relief to suspend the operation of the National Dialogue Forum, pending determination of the petition.

He stated that various fundamental rights and freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia (Amendment Act, 2016 have been, are being and are likely to be violated by the enforcement of the provisions of the said Act.

And Syakalima is seeking substantial reliefs, among them a declaration and order that the provisions of sections 3(h), 5, 6(2), 12, 17 (1) (a) and (b) and 18 (1) (a) of the National Dialogue (Constitution, Electoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) Act No 1 of 2019 are in violation of his rights and freedoms in terms of Articles 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23 of the Constitution.

He also seeks a declaration that provisions of section 3(h) 5, 6 (2) 12, 17 (1) (a) and (b) and 18 (1)(a) of the National Dialogue (Constitution, Electoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) Act No 1 of 2019 are in conflict with the provisions of Articles 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23 of the Constitution and therefore, null and void.

Syakalima stated that he participated in the deliberations and readings before the National Assembly and he unequivocally opposed the passing into law of the National Dialogue (Constitution, Electoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) Act No 1 of 2019 of the Constitution, on grounds among others, that it was an affront to the Constitution, democracy and constitutionalism in the Republic of Zambia as by the law enshrined.

He stated that on April 12, 2019, he was made aware of a publication by the Special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda that the said Act was assented into law by the President on April 9, 2019.

He stated that he was alive to the fact that the Act makes it necessary for him to be a member of the National Dialogue Forum, a body established by the Act for purposes of pursuing alleged constitutional and institutional reforms in violation of his rights as enshrined in the Constitution in relation to his right and freedoms of assembly and association, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression and or discrimination as well as freedom of slavery and forced labour.

Syakalima noted that the Act attempts to override his right and freedom to assemble and associate with his membership to a political party of his choice and its governing rules and regulations in so far as the Act proscribes against all administrative and political actions that are likely to adversely hinder the operation and success of the review process of various statutes as prescribed in the Act.

He stated that he was aware of the fact that the Act did not provide for his resignation from the Forum as established by the Act by virtue of being a member of parliament, which was discriminatory and in clear violation of his rights against forced labour as enshrined in the Constitution.

Syakalima also stated that the Act further provides for criminal sanctions which he wholly believes are unlawful and unconstitutional and are in fact in violation of his right to be informed in detail of the nature of the offence he is charged with as guaranteed under Article 18 (2) (b) of the Constitution as the Act does not in fact describe who an unauthorised person was under section 12 of the said Act.

The petitioner stated that he was also aware that the Act criminalises his willful absenteeism from the Forum or that any other person if encouraged by him and he wholly believes the said provisions as canvassed under section 17 and 18 (1) of the Act violate his fundamental rights and freedoms to associate, conscience and expression.