Chiengi FDD member of parliament Given Katuta on Tuesday afternoon took to task chairperson of the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi on the essence of the constitutional refinement process, which has been going on for the past three weeks.
The Forum has adopted the proposal for the formulation of an Electoral System Bill to provide for the formation of a coalition government in an event that no presidential candidate meets the 50 percent plus one vote threshold.
After a long afternoon of deliberating on the introduction of a coalition government during Tuesday’s afternoon session, Prof Mwanalushi suggested that the topic be shelved to allow delegates discuss other matters that were of similar importance.
But upon hearing this, Katuta rose up, requesting the chairperson to explain if the amendments being proposed to the Republican Constitution were only for the 2021 general elections and not something that would stand the test of time.
“Chair, I want to find out, are we doing these amendments for the sake of 2021 or for the future?” Katuta asked.
But in response, Professor Mwanalushi said: “The Constitution is supposed to be made to last, not for specific years,” before asking Katuta to explain what she meant by her earlier question.
Katuta rose again to give further explanation to her question, insisting that she was opposed to the introduction of a coalition government.
“The reason why I have asked this, Mr Chairman, is because I am getting concerned; the whole nation has entrusted us with this work and whatever we are going to do. We should look at the future of our children and their children’s children. But I am concerned, chair, because when I look at issues like the coalition government, I look at it like it’s just meant for 2021. Why can’t we give a chance to what people are saying out there and not what we are saying here? I don’t think this Constitution is about us [who are gathered] here. What people are expecting us to do here is to speak on their behalf, not on behalf of any political party or an individual. So, for me, when I look at things like the issue of a coalition government, I look at it like it’s a thing for 2021. Why do we have to go for coalition when we already have the 50 per cent plus 1 clause? Why can’t those who want to do the coalition just work hard, win an election and run their own government? Zambians don’t want to have the same people who’ve been in power before to go back into power again!” submitted Katuta.
But rising on a point of order after Katuta’s submission, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo wondered why Katuta was opposing the idea of a coalition government when her own party president was in support of it.
“Chairperson, the honourable MP on the floor is an elected member of parliament for Chiengi on the FDD ticket. Her president [Edith Nawakwi] who is not here today was part of the Siavonga resolution and when we were talking about the Siavonga resolutions, some of the issues that the plenary considered were constitutional reforms and a consideration for this inclusion system, which we discussed and decided that should be discussed at the time we’re going to be dealing with electoral processes and electoral systems, those were resolutions of the plenary. So, is she in order to suggest here that the matters we are tabling are out of what we are supposed to do within the confinement of the Act when her president was with us in the groups when she discussed these matters?” Kampyongo wondered.
In response to Kampyongo’s point of order, the chair ruled the Chiengi lawmaker out of order and called for the House to proceed.
“No, she’s not order! In fact, I answered her when she asked: ‘is this for 2021 for the future’? And I said, ‘the Constitution is supposed to last for a long time, not to be made for specific years.’ You will recall when we opened this Forum, I mentioned the fact that this Constitution that is going to come out will be the 6th in 55 years of our independence. And that is irregular. So, what we are trying to get out of this is something that will last, not something that is meant to accommodate certain interests because that seems to be implication of what you are saying. So, please, let us make progress,” ordered Prof Mwanalushi.