The Opposition Alliance has vowed not to be part of the Constitution amendment process without the national dialogue process.
And UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says the party has instructed its members of parliament not to support the motion to amend the Constitution scheduled to be presented to Parliament by Minister of Justice Given Lubinda.
Meanwhile, NDC consultant Chishimba Kambwili says he will not support the Constitution amendment motion together with UPND and independent MPs.
Speaking at the Opposition Alliance press briefing, Monday, Hichilema charged that the PF wanted to manipulate the Republican Constitution for their own benefit like they did in 2015.
“One party whether it is in office or not, can’t use Parliament as the decider for the peoples’ Constitution because we know the mentality of the PF; they rush these things to Parliament. The Constitution must be derived by the people for themselves. And we believe as my colleague (Kambwili) has said that, dialogue presents that consensus-building opportunity, but they are dodging the dialogue process to avoid the consensus of the people so that they can manipulate the Constitution using Parliament! Has this happened before? Yes, it did. In 2015 going into 2016, the PF went and tabled a Constitution Amendment Bill and many of us argued that it was good to amend the Constitution, we were naïve, PF went ahead, manipulated the process and we ended up with the Constitution we have today, which is a total mess!” said Hichilema.
Meanwhile, Kambwili alleged that the PF wanted to spend K2 million to manipulate the Constitution so that they could remain in power.
He equally insisted that the Opposition Alliance was not going to support the Constitution amendment without the dialogue process.
“You may be aware that on Friday, the Ministry of Justice came to Parliament and announced that they intend to go ahead with the Constitution amendment process without first having gone to the national dialogue. We agreed as all stakeholders that the amendments to the Constitution and the amendment to the Public Order Act would be issues that would be tabled at the national dialogue. But you members of the press and the country may wish to know that PF has tried by all means to sabotage the national dialogue and the reason for sabotaging the national dialogue is for them to do what they want to do now because they don’t want those issues to be discussed in the national dialogue where we can agree to disagree on certain provisions in the Constitution. Now, they want to take a route where they are going to spend K2 million of tax payers’ money. Because if we meet at the national dialogue, all stakeholders will be there, will go through the amendment of the Constitution, article by article, we agree to disagree so that when it goes to Parliament, there should be no any debate whatsoever, but to merely implement what will be agreed at the national dialogue,” Kambwili said.
Kambwili, who is also Roan PF member of parliament, insisted he was not going to support the Constitution amendment motion together with UPND and independent MPs.
“But PF wants to manipulate the Constitution by bringing in certain issues that will favour their stay in power, in the Constitution. But as an Alliance, we are saying we are not prepared to participate in PF and Lubinda’s proposed road map until the issues are brought to the national dialogue. What we are calling PF upon is that let them put their house in order and make sure that the dialogue is held before the Constitution amendment process. And I want to warn the PF, I want to warn President Edgar Lungu and Minister of Justice that the Constitution is not like any other law that you need simple majority, you need two thirds to pass the amendments to the Constitution! Meaning, therefore, that if we are not going to participate, then there will be no amendment that they are proposing because they don’t have the two thirds majority,” argued Kambwili.
“So, if they are reasonable enough, let us talk. Let us go to the national dialogue, without dialogue, stop wasting money on that Constitution process! It will not see the light of the day unless they want to be arrogant and just for the purpose of spending money unnecessarily, let them go ahead, but they must know that we will not be part and parcel of their trickery or crookedness where they want everything to be done their own way! This country belongs to all of us, and the (Republican) Constitution is not the constitution of the PF, it’s not the Constitution of Parliament; it’s not the constitution of NGOs; it’s the Constitution of all Zambians and, therefore, we must do the right thing. If you want you can go ahead and pass that Constitution, it will be called ‘PF-Lubinda constitution!”