Saturday, December 06, 2008

NCC seeks extension of mandate

NCC seeks extension of mandate
Written by Patson Chilemba
Saturday, December 06, 2008 4:57:39 PM

THE National Constitutional Conference (NCC) is seeking an extension of its mandate by 12 months.

According to a letter submitted to the General Purposes Committee on November 17, 2008, the secretariat stated that the NCC Act, No.19 of 2007 came into effect on September 10, 2007 and that it provided that the Conference shall complete its work within a period of 12 months from the commencement of the Act or such longer period as the President may specify by Statutory Instrument.

The Secretariat stated that this meant that from September 10, 2007, any day that Parliament was not sitting was counted against the 12-months period.

“Indeed from 10th September 2007 when the Act came into effect to Monday 29th October 2007, when Parliament convened, the NCC lost fifty [50] days. The NCC also lost twelve [12] days in December 2007 as it was only convened on 13th December 2007. This brings the total number of days lost before convocation of the Conference to sixty-two [62] days or two months and two days,” the secretariat stated.

The secretariat stated that NCC could not meet immediately after September 10, 2007 because members and staff had to be appointed and equipment and other logistics put in place before the Conference could be convened.

“Hence the loss of fifty [50] days between 10th September, 2007 and 29th October, 2007 when Parliament convened,” the letter read in part.

The secretariat stated that Parliament had sat for 140 days since the NCC Act came into effect.

It further stated that in addition, NCC lost 62 days which were spent on preparation.

“This means from the first period of 12 months allowed by the NCC Act, starting from 10th September 2007 to 9th September 2008, the NCC has 202 days or six (6) months and twenty two (22) days remaining before the period expires,” read the letter in part.

The secretariat stated that NCC could not utilize the remaining time of six months and 22 days after Parliament adjourned sine die in September 2008 because the nation was involved in presidential by-election campaigns following the death of president Levy Mwanawasa.

“The President died on 19th August 2008 during the time that Parliament was in session,” read the letter in part. “The Presidential and Parliamentary by-elections were set for 30th October 2008.

The campaign period took 49 days from the day that Parliament adjourned sine die on Friday 12th September 2008 to the election day, on Thursday 30th October 2008. This brings the overall period when NCC could not have met since its inception on 10th September 2007 to 30th October 2008 to 251 days or eight (8) months and eleven (11) days.”

The secretariat stated that the next sitting was scheduled to begin on November 11 to December 5, 2008.

It stated that up to September 9, 2008, the Conference utilised five months and eight days, and left six months and 22 days for utilisation during the period starting from September 10, 2008.

Based on the above, the secretariat proposed that the NCC utilises 30 days in December 2008 for the six committees to approve their reports and the Secretariat to finalise the report in readiness for presentation to the Conference for adoption.

It also proposed that 172 days could be used to adopt the reports of the six committees, Secretariat to finalise the reports of the six committees. The remaining five committees, General Constitutional Principles, Human Rights, Executive, Legislative and Land and Environment, would meet to consider matters under their terms of reference.

“The Secretariat to prepare the reports of the five committees above (19 days). The approval of the reports by the five (5) committees (6 days), the Secretariat to finalise the Committee Reports (10 days), the Conference to sit to consider adopt the Reports of the five (5) Committees and part of the Final Report and Draft Constitution covering the work of the first six (6) Committees (34 days),” read the letter in part.

The secretariat stated that by the time the Conference completes the last item, it would have gone over the remaining six months and 22 days by five days.

“Therefore it will be necessary to request the President to extend the duration of the NCC by another 12 months,” read the letter in part. “The request should be made and authority obtained by the end of September 2009. At the time the NCC will be making the request for extension of the duration, it will need 265 days (i.e. Eight months and 25 days) to complete its work by October 2010.”



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