Former Minister of Commerce Robert Sichinga has said parliament and the judiciary are among the country’s institutions of governance that are under capture.

And Sichinga said the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 will weaken institutions of governance if enacted.

Speaking on the sidelines of the public discussion forum organsied by Chapter One Foundation, News Diggers, Prime Television and Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), Sichinga said the capture of key government institutions can be seen through corruption and capturing of public resources.

“There is state capture around you already, don’t you see it? There is state capture. All institutions that matter, the Judiciary, Parliament itself is under capture itself, just know that. You are not going to achieve a new constitution with a parliament in that mind; it doesn’t work that way. Just be aware that there is state capture, including and especially through the corruption and captured resources,” Sichinga said.

“When a country is struggling to own up, what you have right now, the economic situation you have, is what we call the downward spiral. It’s not going to get better until something dramatic happens. You are under state capture, including the capture of parliament itself.”

He recalled that the formation of the MMD in 1990 was done against the backdrop of weak governance systems like the case was now.

“When we started the Movement for Multi Party Democracy in 1990, it was against a background similar to what we have right now. We are at the crossroads again for your generation…In my days, you had to pay. If you are a worker, you had to pay money to UNIP for them to do that. No freedom comes on a silver platter; it just does not come…,” Sichinga said.

“… Akashabatwa Mbikusita Lewanika, the brother to Dr Lewanika (Inonge), Dr Derrick Chitala, Dr Remmy Mushota late, myself we started sending letters, Dr Vernon Mwaanga will bear witness to this. That is how the Movement for Multi-party Democracy came about. Because we wanted to see perspectives of not just of one party, because there had been a change in terms of the age [of those] that needed to be in leadership.”

He said the lack of a reading culture had also played a factor in the country’s problems.

“One of the things that is very problematic is how many Zambians, especially the educated ones, don’t read. 84 % of the population of this country, if I put it at 18 million, is below the age of 35, meaning 15 million of you have still got to have children, most of you will not have grand children…it is your problem,” Sichinga said.

“What we are talking about here is your problem. Let me say something about this also: 68 % of the population is below the age of 25 [and] of that number, 50% are below the age of 16. You have serious problems before you! How are you going to feed them? How are you going to look after them? How are you going to take the country forward?”

Meanwhile, Sichinga said the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 is a serious affront to good governance.

“What is happening at parliament today and especially with Bill No. 10 and since 2015 is an affront…Indeed, many have been quiet about what is wrong. What is wrong is wrong, it doesn’t matter who is doing it,” cautioned Sichinga.

“So let us just say Bill No. 10 is a serious affront [and] unless you stop it, it will weaken every single institution and we are going to have yet again another third term, unless we stop it. Don’t rape the Constitution…”