Patriotic Front (PF) Deputy Chief Whip Tutwa Ngulube says the UPND fully supported the constitution amendment process in Parliament.
However, Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) chairperson for mobilization Nicholas Phiri says the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 is a poisoned chalice that will not help citizens if enacted into law.
Speaking on Joy FM’s The Platform programme, Monday, Ngulube, the Kabwe Central member of parliament, said the PF did not have the two-thirds majority to start the constitution amendment process and were assisted by the UPND.
“To require Parliament to start the process, PF did not have the numbers. They required the two-thirds majority and that is why when Cornelius Mweetwa brought that motion, it was supported by both sides. If the UPND MPs didn’t support this Bill No.10 at its starting stage, the government would not have opened the process. So it is hypocritical for people to wake up today and claim that the UPND do not know what is happening with Bill No. 10. To begin with, the PF didn’t have the two-thirds majority and up to now, we don’t have the two thirds majority. The only problem came up on the last minute when everything is said and done; they said they are not going to participate. Bill No. 10 is not a product of the PF, it is a product of the NDF,” Ngulube said.
“The constitution amendment is trying to fix lacunas, for example, the election petition. If the people of Zambia are interested in having a constitution that is going to clear up the problems…For example, the person who cried was HH (Hakainde Hichilema) himself; he had a petition for 14 days, he didn’t use it to call witnesses. On the 14th day, they told him ‘sir we cannot hear you, your 14 days [are] over’. Now since HH cried very much, we are saying we can give him 30 days.”
When asked if the constitution amendment was done appease a certain political party, Ngulube said the process was trying to solve the problems that arose after the 2016 general elections.
“It is trying to help the situation that arises out of an election. When an election is done, people see the bad side of the law. Now as PF, we are saying we should not just sleep because nothing affects us today,” he said.
And Ngulube said the UPND would again lose the 2021 elections.
“Remember in 2016 when our brothers lost, they started cutting pylons, they burnt markets and they did everything. The President had to summon Parliament to threaten for a state of emergency. Again in 2021, we know that they are losing…so what will happen in the event that Parliament adjourns? All the ministers will park their vehicles and go to campaign. All of us will go and look for votes. Who said that ministers are so poor that they have to go with a GRZ vehicle to campaign?” asked Ngulube.
But Phiri warned that the proposed constitution amendments are meant to give politicians powers and absolute control.
“If the Constitution Amendment Bill goes into law, I can rest assure you it will not improve anything in terms of the governance of this country, in terms of the well- being of citizens. If anything, it is a poisoned chalice. It is trying to give politicians powers and absolute control. The people of Zambia must know that it will not benefit them [so] the whole Bill must fall,” said Phiri.
Speaking on the same platform, a PF member identified as Martin Mulenga said a lot of things were not taken into consideration during the constitution making process.
He said a constitution should be non-partisan and not take any sides.
“The constitution is non-partisan. So it should not take sides of a political party, be it PF, UPND, MMD or NAREP. It is a Zambian document so immediately you spot certain political parties set an agenda to which they are pushing for a document, it becomes a party manifesto,” said Mulenga.