Senga Hill PF member of parliament Kapembwa Simbao on Wednesday moved a private member’s motion that was seeking to urge government to phase out gasoline driven vehicles and replace them with electric ones by 2030.

However, Choma UPND member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa said the motion was unrealistic as Zambia could not afford to do away with gasoline and diesel driven vehicles in 11 years.

And when debate resumed on Thursday, Simbao asked the Speaker to grant him leave to withdraw the motion in order for him to consult further.

“I beg to move that this House urges government to phase out gasoline and diesel propelled motor vehicles and replace them with electric ones starting in the year 2030. This motion is driven by the fact that there has been a paradigm shift in the transport sector that will seriously affect the way we do business in the future. Before our own eyes, we are witnessing a shift from fossil, diesel and petrol driven vehicles to electric driven vehicles. Mr Speaker, this is a colossal shift which those who will be left behind will have trouble providing physical services to the people. It is no secret that in 50 years’ time, oil will run out, the oil reserves as known today are at 1,688 billion barrels which is a 2013 figure,” Simbao said.

“Mr Speaker, it is not only the running out of oil but also the issue of clean energy, as you know, Mr Speaker, the world is said to be warming up. For example, the heat wave that we have experienced this year, has never been experienced before in my time in this country and so the warming up of the world could be true. This situation is said to be so due to the amount of carbon dioxide emotions into the atmosphere by petrol and diesel vehicles and industries that burn fossil fuel. It is therefore imperative that in order to save the world, burning of fossil fuel in any form must be stopped. That being the case therefore, the ready substitution is electric energy from clean sources such as hydro, solar, wind and hydrogen.”

However, Mweetwa said the motion was unrealistic.

“Mr Speaker I must hasten to state that this motion has come at a very critical time of our country where at personal level it becomes extremely difficult to support it. Let me state that from where I am standing that this motion appears to be derived from the realm of conjecture and human’s adventure. And divorced from the reality of what Zambia is today and what it can attain in the next ten, eleven, 12 years from now, in relation to the time limit that has been given, 2030. To rid this country of gasoline and diesel by 2030, what a big joke I have never heard since I came to this House!” Mweetwa said.

Mweetwa said Zambia had no technological influence to think of replacing gasoline driven vehicles, arguing that the country could not even afford to produce needles at the moment.

“I am concerned with the timing Mr Speaker. This motion is unrealistic. To borrow the words of our colleagues there when they are debating, like honourable Kampyongo, this motion is mischievous! This motion, Mr Speaker, is frivolous and vexatious. I am finding it extremely difficult to support such a motion sir, which has good intentions but it is unrealistic, it’s like telling someone in this House that in the next 2 minutes, I will be in Livingstone but I am in this House, it doesn’t make sense. Mr Speaker, we cannot begin talking about phasing out gasoline driven vehicles in the next 11 years, and as a matter of reality beyond partisan politics, when this House passes a motion, it is the government that undertakes it. Is the government, to which I belong, ready to commit to itself to an undertaking that in the next 11 years we are going to undertake the phasing of gasoline driven vehicles in Zambia? Who in Zambia can agree that in the next 11 years we are going to phase out all these vehicles in Zambia that are driven by gasoline? Of what technological influence is Zambia to this process, when you can’t even produce a tooth pick, you can’t even produce a needle?” asked Mweetwa.

“Which serious investor would want to come and invest into oil exploration in a country whose Parliament has just said in the next 10 years we are phasing out gasoline propelled vehicles? Mr Speaker isn’t this a joke? Sir, this is a joke!”

At this point, Speaker Matibini guided Mweetwa to remember that Simbao had the right to move a motion, regardless of the fact that he was a member of the ruling party.

“Let me advise you honourable, the member who has moved a motion is entitled, he is a back bencher, he is not a minister. He is urging his government, he is entitled to urge his government as a back yourself ealier on pointed out that this house should be engaged in forecasts, elsewhere people are planning in terms of 50nyears, 100 years and so forth, that’s what they do elsewhere, they are thinking generations ahead. Now you want to use very parochial terms,” said Dr Matibini.

But Mweetwa accused Speaker Matibini of debating in favour of the motion, forcing the latter to curtail his debate.

And when debate resumed on Thursday, Simbao asked the Speaker to grant him leave to withdraw the motion in order for him to consult further.

“Mr Speaker, with leave of the House, I wish to withdraw the motion in order for me to consult on the matter,” said Simbao before Speaker Matibini granted his request.