Minister of Justice Given Lubinda says the Constitution amendment agenda is going ahead even if members of the Opposition Alliance shun the process.
And Lubinda says President Edgar Lungu will never meet his UPND counterpart Hakainde Hichilema again since the latter has accused the Head of State of plotting to assassination him.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says the International Criminal Court (ICC) has informed his office that there is no case reported against the Zambian government by any one at The Hague.
Speaking during a media briefing, Tuesday, Lubinda announced that the Constitution amendment process would still go ahead even without the participation of Opposition Alliance leaders, warning that they will have missed an opportunity to fix the Public Order Act.
This follows the 10-member Opposition Alliances’ resolve not to be part of the Constitution amendment process without first having the national dialogue.
Lubinda insisted that President Lungu would not sit on the same table with Hichilema to dialogue again.
“The question I have for you, fellow citizens, from the President is: ‘Would Mr Hakainde Hichilema sit on one table to dialogue with his assassin?’ Does he really expect that people will buy the bluff that he is willing to dialogue with President Lungu, one who is attempting to assassinate him? Do the people of Zambia expect that President Edgar Lungu, who has been called an assassin, will be willing to sit with his victim? What will they talk about? Mr Chishimba Kambwili and Mr Milupi are now saying: ‘dialogue, dialogue..!’ Do they really expect that President Edgar Lungu will simply accept and say: ‘thank you for accusing me of attempting to assassinate you, now come, we have a cup of coffee? That is expecting far too much,” explained Lubinda.
And the minister warned that if the opposition misses its chance to fix the Public Order Act through the Constitution amendment process, it should not complain to the PF.
“The ones who have made the loudest cry about the Public Order Act as a matter of fact, are the members of the Opposition Alliance. We are giving them an opportunity to make that law more acceptable, to make that law meet the aspirations of Zambians. If they do not want to take part, they must not blame it on anybody. We will proceed with the road map, this is the road map that is not leaving anyone behind. We have decided to approach them as individual political parties because they failed to bring any submissions as a collective body through the ZCID. We are giving them a second chance. Now, when we give them the draft Constitution amendment Bill and we give them the draft Public Order Act Bill, it is entirely up to them. There are many challenges that have been identified in the Constitution, not only by the Executive, but the three wings of government. The Judiciary identified some, the Legislature identified others, opposition political party leaders identified some, and we owe it to ourselves, we owe it to future generations to make sure that we have a Constitution that is less problematic than the one we have, and government has a duty to do it and we will do it!” Lubinda said.
“Let me make it clear that we are not in any way curtailing the so-called national dialogue. We are actually encouraging the political parties to proceed with the national dialogue, which is the dialogue for political parties, not government. I sit here as Minister of Justice, I belong to a political party. It is my political party that will be engaged in that dialogue, not me as Minister of Justice. So, government has no role to play in national dialogue, none whatsoever! President Lungu will go to that national dialogue when it is held, as president of the PF. So, we are not saying because of this road map, the national dialogue will not take place, no! We are not intending to replace one with the other. However, we are concerned with the lack of movement on the national dialogue and we cannot hold back government programmes because people who want to talk are not able to talk.”
Meanwhile, Lubinda disclosed that there was no case filed against the Zambian government at the ICC at The Hague.
“You heard that in response to these allegations, His Excellency the President directed the Ministry of Justice to look into these issues as a matter of urgency. I wish to update the nation that the Ministry has since engaged with the President and the Ministry is aware that there is not a single complaint against Zambia at the ICC. Not only at the ICC, but even at the African regional court, there is no matter pending there affecting the State of Zambia. But again, you will recall that this is not the first time this is happening. You will recall that soon after the 2016 general elections, we were entertained to some drama that the ICC was coming to Zambia to investigate allegations of violence, allegations of assassination on the part of President Edgar Lungu. The Minister of Justice again wrote to the ICC and they told us that there was not a single matter before them affecting Zambia,” Lubinda revealed.
And Lubinda warned that Kambwili would be committing another offence if he stopped any member of parliament from participating in the Constitution amendment process.
“Yes, the Opposition Alliance may use the arrogance of the numbers that they have in Parliament; they are aware of the fact that the PF alone will not have the two thirds majority and Mr Chishimba Kambwili was speaking yesterday (Monday) at a press briefing on behalf of UPND that all UPND MPs will not participate. Let me make it clear to Mr Chishimba Kambwili that, he is leading the people wrong because there are, among UPND MPs, there are, among independent MPs, who know their duty to their constituents and to their country. And if Mr Chishimba Kambwili is going to stop any MP from participating in their constitutional duty, he will be committing yet another offence, he must be aware of that,” cautioned Lubinda.