DEPUTY Clerk of the National Assembly Cecilia Sikatele has argued that here is no express provision in the National Assembly Standing orders of 2016, which governs the time within which a Bill must be considered at any stage of enactment.
Sikatele charged that the issues raised by Leader of the opposition, Jack Mwimbu, and the subsequent reliefs sought were wrongly before the Lusaka High Court because they raise matters of a Constitutional nature.
She said the High Court was incompetent to hear and determine the issues raised by Mwimbu therefore the case should be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.
Mwimbu, who is Monze Central member of parliament, has applied for leave in the Lusaka High Court to challenge the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly to allow the restoration to the order paper for consideration of Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2029.
Mwimbu wants an order of certiorari to quash Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini’s decision to allow the deferment of the proceedings relating to (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 to a date yet to be advised within the fourth session of twelfth assembly.
Mwimbu is seeking an order of mandamus directing the Speaker of the National Assembly to discontinue any or further debate or other proceedings relating to Bill No. 10.
He also wants a declaration that Dr Matibini’s decision is invalid, null and void and of no effect and an order that all proceedings in the National Assembly relating to the Bill be stayed until after the determination of the matter or further order of the court.
Mwimbu is seeking reliefs on grounds that Dr Matibini’s decision was unreasonable and irrational without justifiable reason following the lapse of the Bill on June 4, 2020 and is not amenable to further consideration, debate or process in Parliament.
He further stated that the decision was wrong at law as the National Assembly failed to follow laid down procedure when it resumed sitting relating to Bill No. 10 of 2019 and deferred proceedings to a date yet to be advised but within the current session of the National Assembly despite the fact that it was killed upon its lapsing on June 4.
Mwimbu said the decision was procedurally improper, illegal and null and void.
But in an affidavit in opposition to the applicant’s affidavit verifying facts relied on for leave to apply for judicial review, Sikatele, who explained the background of the Bill up to the current stage, explained that on June 23, 2020 the office of the clerk received a request from Minister of Justice Given Lubinda to defer consideration of the Bill to a later date within the current meeting.
“Upon receipt of the Minister’s request, the standing orders’ committee convened a meeting on June 24, 2020 to consider the request by the Minister of Justice to defer further the consideration of the Bill to a date not later than the last day of the current meeting,” Sikatele explained.
She stated that after the deliberations, the committee resolved to extend the life of the Bill to a date not later than the last date of the current meeting.
She stated that when the Bill came up for second reading, on June 24, 2020, Chipata Central member of parliament Moses Mawere completed his debate and Lubinda thereafter requested that the Bill be deferred to a later date and the Speaker allowed it.
Sikatele stated that as a result of the decision of the Standing Order’s Committee, Mwimbu commenced the action.
Sikatele stated that the standing order’s committee which was the highest decision making body of the National Assembly was charged with the responsibility of considering proposals for the management of procedures and practices of the National Assembly.
She stated that the standing orders’ committee derives its powers from the National Assembly of Zambia, Standing orders 2016 which in turn derives its authority from the Constitution.
Sikatele stated that the deliberations of the standing orders’ committee on Mr Lubinda’s request were guided by the National Assembly of Zambia standing order of 2016.
“There is no express provision in the National Assembly Standing orders of 2016 which governs the time within which a Bill must be considered at any stage of enactment,” said Sikatele.
“This matter raises a question relating to the procedures of the National Assembly governed by the Constitution. The Constitutional Court is a proper court to be seized with this matter. Based on the foregoing, this matter ought to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.”