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Constitution has no force or meaning


The Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda raised a very important issue last week when he bemoaned the slow pace at which critical Bills were being handled by various arms of the government.

Mudenda was speaking with particular reference to the review of mining laws, but we feel this extends to aligning most laws with the Constitution.

It is unbelievable that almost five years after the Constitution was signed into law, there is still legislation that needs to be aligned to the charter and the government does not seem interested in moving with haste.

This is not just about politics or economic issues, as even laws to do with social issues are still not aligned to the Constitution.

Sometime ago, the nation celebrated when the Constitutional Court declared child marriages to be illegal, but such unions continue to this day because there is no law criminalising it.

Why the government and Parliament have not been proactive when it comes to the reviewing of laws and aligning them to the Constitution is anyone’s guess, but it is holding the country back in many ways.

While the 2013 Constitution can be said to be progressive, the reality is that as long as laws are not aligned to the charter, it is just a document with no force or meaning.

Parliament only has at most nine months before it is dissolved and this group of parliamentarians should go down in history as a failure because they failed in their legislative agenda.

Mudenda is right that there seems to be no urgency in reviewing laws or aligning critical laws to the Constitution from this group of leaders.

If only parliamentarians and bureaucrats could show the same fervour and endeavour in promulgating laws, as they did with the amendments to the law on the appointment of the Chief Justice, then maybe some work would have been done in reviewing laws.

Instead, most legislators seem to be sleepwalking through their term in Parliament and are only happy to make up the numbers, rather than bringing meaningful debate to the law.

The government is hamstrung by factionalism and Parliament does not seem to be able to function without taking a cue from the Executive meaning both arms of the State are literally limp.

Very little has been achieved in the past four years since the last election and as the country heads into the next polls, issues that were left outstanding will continue to haunt the country.

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