The Law Association of Zambia (LAz) says it is deeply concemed by the publication in the Govemment Gazette No. 534 of 2020 d.ated 12th June 2020 of the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019 which contains numerous proposed amendments to the Republican Constitutioru which are different from the original Bill published in Gazette Notice No. 660 of Friday, 21″t fune, 2019 preceding its presentation in
Parliament for First reading on Friday, 2’d August 2019.
This is concemin gtoLAZ as the newly published amendments do not form part of the Birll 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 enactmenf 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 Ilill 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 tirne, 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 clearlv
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 contairi.g what Govemment considers acceptable.
It is LAZ’s position that there is no procedure which permits Government to publish in the Govemment 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 ofthe Constifution 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.
Lr the event that Govemment 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 LAZthat Bill No. 10 oI 2019 is retrogressive, as the publishing of another version of the same BilI apPears to suggest it must withdraw the current Bill No. 10 of 20-1.9 fuorn Parliament in its entirety and not present the purported Amended Bill No. 10 of 2019 n 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.
16th June 2020
COUNCIL OF THE LAW ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA