Rainbow Party General Secretary Wynter Kabimba says the electorate, not government, must punish UPND members of parliament who absent themselves at the ongoing National Dialogue Forum.

NDF legal counsel Tutwa Ngulube has warned that UPND MPs who opted out of the forum could face up to six months in jail.

But speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Kabimba said he did not think the MPs should be punished b y government, but by the electorate.

Kabimba also said UPND members and their leader should not think that the world revolved around them.

“If you are going to live on this planet thinking that the world revolves around you, you may end up a very sad human being because it doesn’t. The world doesn’t revolve around any single human being. So it is a pity that UPND and a few other colleagues in the opposition alliance decided to boycott the forum. But I am also happy that there are MPs in UPND who are of the realisation that in order to prove whether or not this process is a wrong process, I must attend the forum. That I can’t condemn the process if I have not attended the process. I have heard statements coming from those that have boycotted that sound like they are attending the forum. So I am happy myself with the colleagues from the UPND that have decided to attend the forum, and then at the end of the day, we can say to each other ‘was this worth it? Was it a PF project? Did we make sufficient contributions for a better Zambia?’” Kabimba said.

“Members of parliament are elected to represent the people from their respective constituencies and this involves participating in the processes that would make this country better than it is today. So if you are a member of parliament and you don’t want to participate in these processes, then whom are you representing? So I think they shouldn’t be punished by government but by the people that elected you. I think there must be sanctions from the people that elected those MPs that have decided to walk away from the forum for reasons which are purely personal.”

And Kabimba wondered why some UPND MPs had continued commenting on the NDF when they had refused to participate in the first place.

“The ones that have not attended the forum and they are issuing threats that ‘we’ll meet in Parliament’, they are just being mischievous in my view. Instead of issuing such threats, why didn’t you come to the forum? If you are man and woman enough, come and face the others, come and put your arguments…if the process is illegal, you have the courts of law in Zambia, go and challenge the process using the courts of law. But you can’t be the accuser and the judge of the forum yourself. If indeed you believe or anyone out there believes that those of us at the forum are engaged in some act of illegality, they have a right as Zambians to go to Court and challenge the forum. This forum is not a sham, a sham is a process that is founded on serving the interests of exclusively one group, is this the case with the forum? The answer is no! So you can spend time throwing about these words ‘this is a sham, this is illegal…’ but as you are doing that, the train is moving and wasala (you’ve been left behind),” Kabimba said.

Kabimba also dismissed claims that participants at the NDF were receiving huge sums of money.

“The Act itself makes it very clear that sponsoring organisations, i.e those organisations sending delegates to the forum will be in charge of the needs of their delegates. In other words, there is no money that is coming from the national Treasury to be paid out to the delegates. So when I listen to people saying ‘I would rather go to my grave poor’, just go to your grave poor not because there are allowances at the forum. So this idea of trying to sound very principled out there for political capital when you are misrepresenting facts, it’s just not the correct way of playing politics,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kabimba charged that concerns from the three Church Mother Bodies that the NDF would not be able to produce the desired results were hypothetical.

“That is a hypothetical argument, maybe the Church is right, but we can’t answer that question now because this is just what we call a hypothesis in social science. You can’t answer an argument which is not based on facts, it’s based on speculation. Maybe the Church is right but there is also a possibility that the Church is wrong, so let’s wait until we cross the bridge… the NDF train has rolled out, so if you are not on the train you haven’t bought the ticket, too bad, you can only wave at the people that are on the train. So let’s wait until the train gets its ultimate destination and that’s what I am looking forward to,” said Kabimba.