Minister of Justice Given Lubinda says the PF government will not lose anything if the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 does not pass in Parliament, bragging that the current provisions actually favour them.
And Lubinda says those declaring the hunger situation a disaster must not be taken seriously and are doing it for fun, insisting that only President Edgar Lungu can do so in accordance with the law.
Debating in parliament, Thursday, Lubinda said the PF would not lose anything if the Amendment Bill No. 10 failed to pass, arguing that Zambians would be the real losers.
He even bragged that the ruling party would continue enjoying their usual privileges of having meetings without informing the police.
“I have been told that when the Bill is presented, they want to walk out, and the people will see how people will walk in and out when the Bill is presented. And the question will be asked: who are the losers? Number one, in 2016, President Edgar Lungu said: ‘I am going to give you the Constitution with 50+ 1 per cent’ because thinking he will not manage to win, but in his speech, he was dared. In 2021, I can assure you, Sir, if this Constitution is not amended, the same people who quarreled about 14 days will quarrel again because it will still be in the Constitution,” Lubinda said.
“And by the way, lest people again are misinformed, they are talking about delimitation and yet they are failing to agree on the Constitution. Ultimately, who are the losers? In case people think PF are going to lose anything if the Constitution is not passed; let me tell you, my colleagues, as a matter of fact, the current Constitution favours us! The current provision in the law favours us. The Public Order Act today favours us. So, if they don’t want, colleagues, let’s agree and maintain and say: ‘let us maintain the status quo’ so that, we can go and have meetings without having to inform the police. But they will have to go and inform the police before having meetings. Who is the loser? It is not President Edgar Lungu who is going to lose as a result of people walking out on the Constitution. The PF, as a government, we will have nothing to lose if the Constitution process is stopped. The ultimate losers will be the people of Zambia, the ones who are making submissions now are the ones who are bound to be losers. And I can assure you, 2021, we will be in this Parliament.”
He insisted that UPND members of parliament initiated the process to amend the Constitution.
The PF Kabwata member of parliament argued that there was no need to establish the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) to amend the Constitution, but that the Forum was only set-up because the PF were a “listening government”.
“How did this whole debate about amending the Constitution come about? I have said this time and again that members of the UPND here presented the motion successfully. They are the ones who initiated the process. Today, they want to put other people in the dock and say there are the ones driving the process. My good colleague, the chief whip, yesterday explained how they themselves at every turn were finding a reason to stop the process. And now, they are even saying they are going to stop this process here in Parliament,” Lubinda said.
“Some people have argued that the Constitution Bill No. 10 is inappropriately before Parliament. And amongst people that have argued in that fashion are lawyers. And I get worried that lawyers can have the tendency to misinform people to that extent! We did not even have to go to National Dialogue Forum (NDF), we would have just come here and amended according to Article 79, but we did what we did because we are a listening government.”
On the hunger situation, he said the country had enough food reserves to sustain the people in need and there was, therefore, no need to declare hunger a national disaster.
“Only the President, not anyone else, and it is only when he himself is satisfied that there is need for exceptional measures. The Minister of Agriculture is delivering food. You don’t go begging from your neighbour when you have food in your own reserves. You exhaust your reserves first and the responsible Head of State has said ‘for the time being, I have enough to feed the people…When it comes to a situation where we have run out, indeed I, as the President, will use the law’. Yes, people are free to declare disasters, but let them do so in their homes, let them do it in their political parties, not nationally. A national disaster can only be declared by one Head of State: President Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu. Anyone else who is doing it is doing it for fun and must not be taken seriously,” said Lubinda.