Some UPND members of parliament have spoken out to quell speculation that some of them plan to support the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019.
At a media briefing, Tuesday, UPND parliamentary Whip Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane pledged that he would not betray Zambians.
“In the past few days, some members of the public have expressed some concern that indeed some MPs from the UPND and its allies might vote with PF. Over the past few months, UPND has worked hard to maintain unity and is confident that we shall hold together as your MPs. In this regard today, as the MP from Liuwa and in my individual capacity, I wish to commit before all of you and through you to the population at large that I Situmbeko Musokotwane will stand with the people on the question of the Constitutional Amendment. I pledge to stand with the people by ensuring that I do not vote for the Amendment Bill when it comes. This is the covenant that I am making with the people of Zambia today,” Dr Musokotwane pledged.
“On our side, fighting the constitution, you can already erase my name from the list of MPs who might be tempted to vote with PF. So, from this very moment, PF has already been denied one vote. We are building up this number so that by the time we vote, the PF will have lost 55 MPs who have rejected to vote with them. UPND has heard the cry of the people. You don’t want the post of deputy ministers to be re-introduced. You don’t want strange arrangements for coalition government found nowhere else on earth where a presidential candidate who has lost can borrow votes from another candidate so as to cling on to power. You want Parliament to approve all loans before government commits to borrow. You don’t want the Financial Intelligence Centre to be wound down cleverly. We have heard you in the matters above and beyond. That is why we shall stand with you and not let you down in matters regarding the constitution.”
He said UPND was happy that majority Zambians had rejected the Bill.
“I speak to you this morning as a Member of Parliament. Specifically, I speak to you as the representative of the people of Liuwa Constituency. And I am doing so in relation to the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019. Simply put, the current effort by the government to amend the constitution. As a party, UPND has been consistent in strongly disapproving the process the government has used to amend the constitution. Further, we don’t also agree with the content of the proposed changes to the constitution. The specific points of disagreement have been outlined several times before. We feel encouraged that it is not just UPND that has found the current effort to change the constitution to be totally unacceptable. The three main Christian mother bodies have rejected this exercise. Sections of our traditional authorities have rejected it. The University of Zambia academic community have rejected it. Many civil society organizations have rejected it. To crown it all, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) has even taken the unprecedented step of dragging the government to court so as to block this constitutional amendment effort,” said Dr Musokotwane.
“At this stage where we are now in the process, most citizens have placed their last hope in Members of Parliament to stop the bill when it comes before Parliament in September. Should the MPs let the people down on this process, then unfortunately the proposed new constitution shall come into force bad as it may be.”
And at another briefing, Monday, Mazabuka UPND member of parliament Gary Nkombo and his Choma and Kapiri Mposhi counterparts, Cornelius Mweetwa and Stanley Kakubo respectively also vowed to vote against the Bill.
“The story indicated that we had started collaborating with the Patriotic Front and precisely that we received huge sums of money to the tune of US$100,000, colossal, obscene amount of money in order for us to vote along side the PF in mutilating the current constitution. We thought that we should make it very clear, even on behalf of the colleagues who are not here, honorable Mwiimbu…and honorable Shabula plus the three of us to make it very clear that the intentions of this media report were simply to divert the people’s attention in the nation from the real issues that Zambians are grappling with and to name just a few, the hunger in households and the high price of the staple food in our country, the poor governance performance of the PF government, the corruption that has been exposed in the Financial Intelligence report and also the ownership of the 48 mysterious flats, just to name but a few,” said Nkombo.
Mweetwa said the UPND would not betray Zambians.
“I would like to state that we the members of parliament for the UPND are not for sale. We didn’t go to Parliament as commodities to be purchased. We are not like some counsellors and chairpersons who are being bought, our calling is higher, it is to the whole nation and we understand the responsibility we shoulder as members of parliament. There is no single member of parliament of the UPND who is collaborating with PF, who has been bought by PF. As a matter of fact, even when you just look at the list, you can see that this is just cheap propaganda because the names that have been put here, these are the same people who not very long ago worked very hard to defeat PF in Katuba to ensure that we have an additional member of parliament as we go to vote over the Constitution. So how can we work so hard to make sure we have the correct numbers in the House over the Constitution so that we defend the will of the people of Zambia and then begin to compromise? This is cheap politicking,” said Mweetwa.
Meanwhile, Kakubo said he was not for sale.
“We just want to give a firm position as MPs of the UPND that none of us are up for sale. The position of MP for Kapiri Mposhi is not on auction sale, the same goes for Mazabuka, the same goes for honorable Mweetwa’s constituency, we are not up for sale. Our position as UPND is very clear on issues to do with the constitutional amendment. As a party, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the Zambian people. Need I remind you that we are the same people who walked out on this Bill when it was introduced on the last day of Parliament sitting. We are a united team, we all walked out together and we are resolute, we won’t be swayed,” said Kakubo.