Find us on Google+

Monday, 7 March 2011

Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill 2010: Part IV

Petitioning Parliament

Article 87 deals with the right to petition and make comments to Parliament :
(1) Every citizen has a right to petition Parliament to enact, amend or repeal any legislation.
(2) Every citizen may comment on the deliberations, statements and decisions of the National Assembly.
(3) Parliament shall enact legislation to regulate the manner of petitioning and commenting referred to in clauses (1) and (2).
Article 87 is designed to encourage the public to get involved in shaping legislation directly. This is welcome but this appears to be an empty Article with no clear framework in mind. Two issues illustrate this. 

First,  under Clause 3 – Parliamentary legislation appears to relate to the “the manner of petitioning and commenting”. It should be clear that such legislation must deal with putting appropriate mechanisms for petitioning parliament. Right now it is a nightmare to petition parliament directly. There are lessons that can be learnt from other countries on this. It is vital that such legislation set benchmarks for performance. 

Secondly, how will Article 87 be enforced? Is this just a theoretical right that will have no practical effect? If we petition for a new law to Parliament, assuming a democratic and accessible process is developed, what happens if nothing happens? How will Article 87 result in tangible citizen driven participatory democracy?

So it appears that a cardinal aspect of bringing Parliament closer to the people is the least thought through of all the clauses. 

Zambian Economist is currently reviewing the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill 2010. All posts in this ongoing review can be found at the Constitution of Zambia page.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All contributors should follow the basic principles of a productive dialogue: communicate their perspective, ask, comment, respond,and share information and knowledge, but do all this with a positive approach.

This is a friendly website. However, if you feel compelled to comment 'anonymously', you are strongly encouraged to state your location / adopt a unique nick name so that other commentators/readers do not confuse your comments with other individuals also commenting anonymously.