We have a good Constitution… resist any attempt to have another constitutional making exercise- John Sangwa

John Sangwa
John Sangwa

We still have a viable Constitution – Sangwa

By Kombe Chimpinde Mataka

RESIST any attempt to have another constitutional making exercise, constitutional lawyer John Sangwa has told lawyers.

And Sangwa, a state counsel, has discouraged lawyers and the public from attacking the judiciary.

During a discussion programme held by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) to commemorate the International Day of Democracy on Thursday, Sangwa said the country did not want another form of Bill 10.

“We don’t want another bill 10. We have had enough. We have a good Constitution. After all the Constitution delivered isn’t it?” Sangwa told the gathering of lawyers and student lawyers. “So what more do you want? You want to go and change? Change what?. If you have challenges go to the Constitutional Court. They clear whatever, what they call lacuna. So we don’t and I would like to urge you to resist any attempt to have another exercise. They money to spend on that exercise can be devoted elsewhere . We don’t need it.”

Sangwa said constitutional amendments should not be confused with constitutional making.

“This is where we get it wrong. Constitution making is not something you do at anytime that you feel like. It is something that you undertake at a certain historical time. The timing in constitution making is very important. Surviving and long lasting democracies had framed up their constituencies at a certain historical time, at that particular time they were able ensure what gives legitimacy to the constitution is the extent to which the people have participated in the process and you can maximise the people’s participation depending on the timing in which that exercise is undertaken,” Sangwa said. “So right now if you do it, who is interested in constitution making? What is the people’s most pressing need right now? Survival. Okay. People are not interested in constitution making but in any case we still have a viable Constitution. It is not the best but it is better than anything that we have had before. We have more challenges, more pressing issues, that the last thing we have to do is embark on another constitution making exercise.”

Sangwa said members of parliament can continue amending the Constitution provided they met the required two-third majority.

“Yes you can amend if you want because that is the preserve of parliament. They can amend anytime provided they the two-thirds majority,” he noted.

Sangwa said the constitution was as good as the people.

“Governments have refused to be limited by the constitution unfortunately…” Sangwa said.

“If you have criminals and a good constitution they will damage it. They will destroy it. You can have not so much a good constitution but you have people in office to do the right time. Why? Because they are good.”

Meanwhile, Sangwa said tolerating attacks on the judiciary would create anarchy.

“You don’t attack the judgments. You criticise the judgment you are attacking the reasoning in the judgment, the shortcomings in the judgment, but you don’t attack the judge. Whatever shortcomings that are there, that is how we built our jurisprudence,” said Sangwa. “I hope we don’t have this habit of just reading the summary judgment. We have to do more.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here