By Charles Kakoma-UPND spokesperson.
The current constitutional mess was created by the ruling Patriotic Front government. Many of the provisions they are trying to pass through Bill 10 are already taken care of in the current Constitution as amended in 2016.
When signing into law the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 2016, President Edgar Lungu was so excited about what he considered to be good clauses in the constitution that he boasted that he could sign it with his eyes closed.
In the words of former president of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, it’s “ifyakuyifwayila”. KK used to advise some people to keep away from certain dangers but they couldn’t listen to him. When they burnt their fingers, they run back to him crying. He told them that “Ifyakuyifwayila,” meaning they asked for it.
It is similar to a situation where someone goes to provoke some wasps or bees. If they get beaten by the bees or wasps, who is to blame?
To illustrate what we are talking about, let us examine some contentious issues in the original Bill 10. The current constitution did away with deputy ministers. The PF government went to resurrect the dead issue of deputy ministers and put it in Bill 10.
After the people have rejected the provision of deputy ministers in the constitution, the PF and its government are now calling for help from the opposition to amend Bill 10 to remove the provision of deputy ministers!.
The second example is that the current constitution already provides for parliamentary oversight over the contraction of debt by the government. The PF went ahead to try to remove this provision from the constitution.
After the people rejected the proposed amendment, the PF and its Government are running back to the opposition for help to remove the amendment from Bill 10.
The third example is that the current constitution already provides for retirees to remain on the payroll until their benefits are fully paid.
The PF Government proceeded to remove this provision from the constitution but after it backfired, they now want help from the opposition to amend Bill 10 to restore the right of workers to remain on the payroll until their benefits are fully paid.
There are so many clauses that Bill 10 sought to amend which in the first place were unnecessary amendments to the current constitution.
Instead of straggling to pass Bill 10 to restore the constitution to its current status, the simple solution is to WITHDRAW BILL 10 to enable the status quo to continue. What is difficult about withdrawing Bill 10?
WE note with sadness the Patriotic Front government efforts to continue pushing for the passing in parliament of the rejected Bill 10.
The PF and its government are trying to deceive the citizenry that they have listened to their objections to the bill and are ready to make amendments when in fact not.
Through the re-gazetted Bill 10 of 12th June, 2020, they have through flattery only amended a few items out of about 69 in the proposed bill simply to disguise and render their rejected obnoxious plan to alter and adulterate our constitution acceptable by the masses.
The current attempt to gazette new amendments to Bill 10 are illegal. The Standing Orders of Parliament only provide for amendments to be made to a Bill after Second Reading of the Bill. After Second Reading, the bill goes to Committee Stage where amendments can be made.
In the case of Bill 10, the Second Reading Stage has not been done and it would be unlawful to amend the bill before it is debated and passed by at least two thirds of the Members of Parliament. The only other circumstance where amendments can be made before Second Reading is by leave of the house.
There is no record of the House having sat to grant Minister of Justice Given Lubinda leave to publish any amendments to Bill 10.
As UPND, we believe that withdrawing is the answer if truly this government means well on this Bill 10.
The PF’s desperation to have Bill 10 enacted into law is clear for all to see. They have marshalled characters of all hues and shades to go around the country to preach Bill 10, ignoring Ministry of Health Coronavirus guidelines.
It is now clear that Bill 10 is do-or-die affair for them. Their political survival is hinged on Parliament passing it. They want to sneak in amendments that will facilitate their winning of the presidential and general elections next year.
The PF is the worst thing that ever happened to this country. They have literally brought the country down. They have made Zambians destitute. There is no reason why any person would want to vote PF. They know this very well.
They know they have shortchanged the people of Zambia and they know they cannot win a clean election. They have done nothing for this country except to plunge it in a mountain of debt and to ransack its coffers to fill their pockets.
The only reason the PF leaders want to retain power through Bill 10 is to protect what they have stolen from the people of Zambia. This is why they don’t care how they retain power. They want to ensure they remain in power via the backdoor.
We know that Zambians have rejected PF, we urge them to reject Bill 10 and to condemn the PF’s schemes to force it down the throats of Zambians. If Zambians allow Bill 10 to pass, they will be selling their birthright.
The PF has spent billions of kwacha to ensure this Bill passes. What good Constitution is made through corruption? Bill 10 is a poisoned chalice. There is nothing good that will come from its enactment.
We advise the PF for once to stop taking Zambians for fools. Let them quit their endless political scheming. We urge them to focus on correcting their mistakes. Let them fight corruption.
Let them use the zeal and energy they are applying on Bill 10 to find the owners of the 48 mysterious houses and bring them to justice, let them explain why they sold our gold to foreigners even before the sector was formalised, let them tell us how we bought old-model fire trucks at $1 million each, let them tell us how we ended up buying ambulances worth US$50,000 at US$288,000.
Zambians have not forgotten how they were gassed right in their homes and the PF government is now quiet. They don’t want to say anything about gassing. Zambians want those culprits brought to justice. They want to know who gassed them.
All they know is that this is a government of gassing. The energy being wasted on Bill 10 should be used to find the gassers.
We would like to tell the PF that Bill 10 will not go anywhere. This time the people of Zambia have refused to be taken for fools and to endorse a regime that is only interested in their personal welfare at the expense of the whole country.