Justice Minister Given Lubinda says failure to enact Bill 10 will deprive Zambians an opportunity to enjoy extended rights because both the bills to reform Public Order Act and the Electoral Reforms Act have been deferred pending the enactment of the Constitution Amendment Bill.
But Monze Central UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu has vowed that the opposition party will vote against Bill 10 because it is inimical to the aspirations of the Zambian people.
Meanwhile, nominated member of parliament Raphael Nakachinda has charged that the UPND has failed to discuss substantive matters relating to Bill 10.
Speaking when he delivered a policy statement on the Ministry of Justice budget, Lubinda said he hoped the House would not deny Zambians an opportunity to actualize their dream to have a Constitution that is free of lacunae and inconsistency.
“This process to amend the Constitution was highly consultative that it included public consultation through written and oral submissions. It is my prayer that this August House will rise to the occasion and not deny Zambians an opportunity to actualize their dream to have a Constitution that is free of lacuna and inconsistency. The Ministry of Justice facilitated the review of the Public Order Act, in so doing, countrywide consultations were held on the proposed amendments. The proposed amendments were later subjected to public scrutiny at the National Dialogue Forum in May 2019. It may be recalled that the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) also facilitated a workshop for all parliamentarians where proposals to amend the Public Order Act were received. Madam, the Public Order Bill number 12 of 2019 was published on 21st June 2019. Government presented this bill to Parliament for consideration during its current sitting, the bill was however deferred because its implementation is dependent on the outcome of the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019,” said Lubinda.
“I have no doubt in my mind that all those who see value in the Public Order Act enhancement of freedoms of assembly will do what is required of them by supporting the enactment of Bill 10 because that is the door to accessing these freedoms that have been extended in the Public Order Act. Denying the Zambian people the passage of Bill 10 is denying them an opportunity to extend these freedoms. The Electoral Process Bill number 11 of 2019 was one of the bills prepared by the NDF and seeks to address various electoral concerns by members of the public. The bill provides for continuous voter registration, it also provide for the very popular delimitation of constituencies as well as introduction of electronic voting. This bill was also deferred pending the outcome of Bill 10. Again, for us to access all these extended opportunities for Zambians, we will have to depend on all members of parliament to support the enactment of Bill 10.”
But contributing to the motion, Mwiimbu vowed that his party would not support Bill 10.
“The rules here are different from other jurisdictions where if the parliamentary committee makes a recommendation, its binding on the executive to make changes. The rules here are different. That particular report of the committee is just like a newspaper that people read because it’s not binding on anybody. The way it is, is that if the second reading is adopted and it passes the committee stage, any amendment is simple majority and we know the issues of arrogance of numbers that whatever they will propose, no matter how wrong it is, it will pass. However, we are available for any discussion, any progressive discussions over this bill, we the UPND and the PF are not the owners of this Constitution, the Constitution is owned by the people of Zambia. As the bill is, we are not going to support it, we are united here don’t think that because others didn’t do whatever you want, they are still with us, they will vote with us and I was looking at their faces they told me that they were doing a don’t kubeba, they will vote with us so don’t be misled, they are with us,” said Mwiimbu.
“I want to make it very clear on behalf of a number of organisations and institutions in this country that the whole process has not been consultative hence the contention that is in place. I want to clear one misconception, I am aware that members on your right went to radio stations and TV stations arguing that bill number 10 has changed and that there is a new bill number 10, which is not correct, it’s not correct Madam Chairperson. The correct position as far as Parliament is concerned, and the law is that there is no other bill number 10 other than the one which is on the floor of this House which was deferred. There hasn’t been any amendment whatsoever, and that is the bill, if it ever comes back, that will be debated.”
Meanwhile, Nakachinda charged that the UPND had failed to identify problems with Bill 10.
“It is misinformation to suggest that there hasn’t been broad consultation because I am aware that our colleagues from the UPND have failed to discuss the substantive matters that they relate to Bill 10, they have started dodging to try and talk about the process. All political parties were consulted at highest level of president, even Hakainde Hichilema was consulted. All I can say is that misinformation may run fast but it has short legs, truth will definitely catch up. The people will try and use the Constitution making process for political mileage but fortunately, the Zambian people are able to see and judge,” noted Nakachinda.