Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi has challenged those who have issues with the Constitutional Amendment Bill No.10 to make submissions to the Committee instead of making noise on the street.
And Nawakwi has advised UPND members of parliament to avoid walking out of Parliament, but stay and ensure that their argument is heard so that their views are considered.
Meanwhile, Nawakwi has urged Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu to ensure that he quickly sources funds to dismantle Zambia’s mounting debt stock.
Speaking when she featured on Hot FM’s breakfast show, Friday, Nawakwi observed that the divisions that that were being caused by the Electoral Process Act were what prompted her to go and voice her views at the controversial National Dialogue Forum (NDF).
“…So, now, you come out from where you can impact change and go to the street where you have no effect! So, those that don’t like certain clauses, please I am pleading with you, go to the Committee on Legislation and tender your alternative view. This is a good law! If it is not up to your standard, go to the Committee and get things changed. There is still room to make further changes,” Nawakwi argued.
“….This is why I have been so keen in getting the Electoral Process Act done because I realize that we need to sit down. If, every time you come from elections and you complain of being robbed, if a thief comes through your window, every time they come it’s the same window, you need to lock it up! That’s why for me, I thought what are the issues, this issue relates to how we transmit results and then there is a prescription on how we transmit results. I want a law where the chairperson of the Electoral Commission is the only custodian of the process. So, that he can call us to account; so that is why I went there (to the NDF). When you look at the Act for the Electoral Commission, our chairperson has no powers and we call him all sorts of names so we want to give them authority. So, we wanted to clean up the Electoral Process Act, the Electoral Act, the Public Order Act so that when we have elections, we need to define how we transmit results from point A to point B.”
Nawakwi urged the NDF critics to make submissions on the disputed Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10.
“We are not saying that NDF is 90 per cent right, that five per cent is what we are saying, please, go and submit. For example, a term of Parliament is five years, it’s in the Constitution. So, you say Parliament, five years, then the members are four years, seven months…you see that, it’s an illegality that just needed a correction, but there was these strong stories. Look, these MPs are also human beings, one day, you will be MP and then when Parliament is dissolved for four months, but your loan, which you have taken, is five years. We have provided also in this Constitution that the President also can dissolve Parliament if he feels that it is not performing its duties, he can dissolve. And this matter also has to be referred quickly to the Constitutional Court so you don’t find president Nawakwi wakes up one day and doesn’t like Mr Speaker and says ‘I have dissolved the whole House, get out!’ So, what we proposed was that the term for members must be five years as provided in the Constitution,” she said.
And she advised UPND members of parliament to avoid walking out of the House, but stay and ensure that their argument was heard so that their views were considered.
“So, if they walk out, we will take it that they are happy with the 14 days (time-frame for presidential petition appeals); they are happy with the Public Order Act; they are happy with results being carried by unknown passengers. They said that the (Zambia) Air Force was manipulating results, those are the issues we need to sort out now. Instead of saying the Church must chair the process, now it’s the politicians who must look at what clauses must be changed or cleaned up further. If you don’t want something, tell your MP to go and debate, change and vote, then it will be on record that you didn’t want, but if you walk out, you give room to the others to pass their will. That’s the art of elections,” she argued.
But responding to a question on why she agreed to the reduction in the number of campaign days from 90 to 50 days, Nawakwi noted that currently, all party presidents were campaigning, adding that 90 days was not enough to organize party structures.
“There is the issue of 50 days, let’s face it; everyone is campaigning now! The PF is campaigning; the FDD is campaigning…everyone is campaigning! You have seen us presidents going all over the place, HH (Hakainde Hichilema) is also campaigning by having these meetings against the NDF; he is trying to garner support. So, all of us are campaigning. So, when Parliament is dissolved, we are saying 50 days (as campaign period). We understand that campaigning doesn’t just start when you dissolve Parliament, it’s continuous. We, who are in the opposition, are campaigning, if you say 120 days, you can’t put structures in place. So, this period we are campaigning, you add the actual election and announcement and the hullabaloo around that. When you add everything, you are going to 90 days. So, I think that is okay, I am a politician, I could have told you if it’s not okay,” she replied.
Meanwhile, Nawakwi, who is also former Finance Minister, urged Dr Ng’andu to find funds to dismantle Zambia’s huge debt stock.
“There is no option but to be reasonable, sit down and discuss with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) so that we restructure the debt. Part of our problem is not entirely due to consumption and no investment; part of our problem is the depreciation of the kwacha. You look back at the time when they were borrowing the euro, dollars, what was the rate? You look at it this time at almost K14 to a dollar. How many kwacha’s do we need to generate to pay for the money? And, therefore, when we face the IMF, one of the reasons is that you cannot manage the exchange rate because you are not producing, so first and foremost, we need to find a way of restructuring the indebtedness. Secondly, we need to sit down and say we can no longer continue to be a consumption-(based) economy, if you look at what is happening, the government has borrowed from the private sector, meaning if you are a contractor, you are not paid, you cannot be able to pay back money that you owe the bank! So, please, my brother, find money to dismantle the local debt,” urged Nawakwi.