Chipili Independent Member of Parliament Jewis Chabi says UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema should worry about his members of parliament who are being courted by the PF to support the Constitution Amendment Bill, not independent MPs whose numbers don’t make a difference.
And Chimwemwe Independent Member of Parliament Elias Mwila says the bill has some clauses that he would not support but pledged his support for clauses which he feels are progressive.
On Tuesday, Hichilema made an earnest appeal to his MPs and independent lawmakers not to allow the Constitution Amendment Bill to pass, but Chabi urged the opposition leader not to worry if his MPs are loyal to him.
Chabi said he was aware that some UPND MPs were being quoted by the PF and those were the ones who would pass the Bill.
“The appeal is okay but you know where the problem is, he is making an appeal at a time when some of his MPs are being quoted by the PF to support the Constitution Amendment Bill, it is not even about the Independent MPs, the defining factor are the UPND MPs you get the point. Let’s assume that all the Independent MPs supported the Constitution Amendment Bill in Parliament, still they will not meet the two thirds majority. The people that will allow the two thirds majority to be met are the UPND MPs. At least six of them will have to vote along with the PF for the two thirds majority to be met. So if the UPND president has done his homework well, and he is very sure none of them is going to support the Amendment Bill he should not worry,” Chabi said.
Asked if he could share the names of the UPND MPs who were being quoted by the PF, Chabi declined, saying Hichilema knew them.
“No no I don’t know the MP’s, I am not in the position to know them, but [Hichilema] himself is aware of some of his Members of parliament who are being quoted. But the fact of the matter that I can tell you is that the PF government cannot succeed to meet the required number in parliament without the support of UPND MPs. So if he is very confident that all his MPs are going to reject that, then there is no need for him to even appeal to the Independent MPs because then it will not go, it will not pull through,” said Chabi.
And Mwila pledged his support for the clauses which he felt were progressive.
“There are certain clauses that the people of Chimwemwe would want to change. So, saying that we should outright reject it is not the right way to go. In the Constitution for example, there are some clauses I don’t agree with. There is a clause that says when a civil servant retires, that civil servant will be on the payroll until all the benefits are paid but in this proposed draft they are saying that one should go out and get back to the old system where after three months you are removed from payroll and then you join the queue until you get the final benefits. I don’t agree with that change,” said Mwila.
“But I would vote for the proposal that Members of Parliament get back to councils, because as things are happening now, MPs are losing out. I am in Lusaka right now debating in Parliament but back in my constituency, the council is busy planning, allocating market stalls and even allocating land that we had reserved for GRZ clinics. For example, in Kawama ward, you see school grounds have been invaded by the local authorities through ward councillors. They don’t tell us the motions they want to take to councils. All we hear is ‘planners from the council are on the site, putting beacons right there in the school grounds’. Right now, there is correlation funds that government sends to local authorities, millions of kwacha. But if you ask me how the council has been using those funds, I don’t know, because they don’t communicate to us and if we make calls they don’t even pick our calls.”