OPEN LETTER TO THE CLERK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

OPEN LETTER TO THE CLERK OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

RESPONSE TO NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PRESS RELEASE – PRECEDENCE CANNOT OVERRIDE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS

Dear Clerk of the National Assembly,

We have read with great concern the recent press release regarding the process of the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly.

While we appreciate the explanation provided regarding the precedence set in previous appointments, we must express our deep disagreement with the notion that precedence should override constitutional provisions.

The Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) No.2 of 2016 clearly states in Article 74 (2) that the opposition political party with the largest number of seats in the National Assembly shall elect a leader of the opposition from amongst the Members of Parliament who are from the opposition. This provision unequivocally requires adherence to the constitutional stipulations, without any room for deviation based on precedence or party communication.

The appointment of the Leader of the Opposition is a pivotal element in the functioning of our democratic system, and it is of utmost importance that this process is conducted in strict accordance with the constitutional provisions. By upholding the supremacy of the Constitution, we ensure the integrity and legitimacy of our democratic institutions.

The justification provided in the press release, stating that the appointment of the Leader of the Opposition is solely authenticated and announced by the Speaker of the National Assembly, overlooks the requirement for the opposition party itself to elect and communicate the appointment. The Speaker’s role is not limited to mere authentication but extends to upholding and following the constitutional provisions governing the appointment process.

While we understand the need for procedural clarity and precedence, it is crucial to emphasize that the Constitution is the highest law of the land, serving as the foundation upon which our democratic principles rest. Precedence should serve as a guide, but it cannot supersede or override the constitutional framework that safeguards the democratic rights of the Zambian people.

In light of these concerns, we strongly urge the National Assembly and its esteemed leaders to reconsider their stance on this matter. It is imperative to ensure that all appointments, including that of the Leader of the Opposition, adhere strictly to the constitutional provisions, thereby preserving the democratic fabric of our nation.

We kindly request that you take our concerns into consideration and engage in open dialogue to address this issue promptly. The Zambian people deserve a transparent and accountable political system that upholds the principles of the Constitution and ensures the fair representation of all voices.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Lawrence Mwelwa

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