PF Deputy Parliamentary Chief Whip Tutwa Ngulube says the party will not allow any process of withdrawing Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 despite continued calls from some stakeholders to do so.
In an interview, Ngulube said it was better for the Bill to flop on the floor of Parliament than having it completely withdrawn, adding that 2020 was an opportunity for the country to reflect on what happened in 2016 regarding the Presidential Election petition case.
Last month, Parliament postponed the Second Reading of Bill 10 to when the House reconvenes proceedings next month.
“The Bill that they are trying to oppose has 79 clauses, they have only opposed eight clauses; so should we throw away the 71 clauses, which have nothing to do with politics (but) everything to do with good governance, with financial arrangements of the Bank of Zambia? Should we throw away everything simply because some political party is opposed to eight of those clauses? So, we will not allow the process of withdrawing Bill No. 10. We would rather Bill 10 flops on the floor so that people can see that, yes, it has been shot down, than putting up all these efforts and then throwing it away. I don’t think this country should continue in this direction,” Ngulube said.
“2020 actually gives us an opportunity to reflect on what happened in 2016. If you recalled what happened in 2016, the country almost came to a standstill because I remember the moment there was an election petition, government closed. The President did not summon Parliament because the President had not yet been sworn-in, so there was no Parliament from 11th of August up to almost September, almost a month until the President was sworn-in. And we also saw that almost everything was just dwindling; the peace in the nation, there was so much tension! If we do not clean up this Constitution to make the articles straightforward, we will continue languishing falling in the same ditch we fell in 2016.”
He warned that UPND MPs were likely to commit political suicide if they decided to walk away from Parliament during Bill 10 proceedings as enacting it only required a two-thirds majority in the House.
“The UPND are likely to commit political suicide because one thing they don’t know is that, we don’t need all the MPs to change that Constitution; we only need two-thirds! So, even if they say: ‘we will walk away,’ yes, if they walk away and two-thirds remain seated, we still go ahead and change the law, that is what is going to happen. So, they might commit political suicide, they would have lost an opportunity to contribute to the debate on the Constitution. They would have lost an opportunity to make sure Zambia gets a good Constitution,” he argued.
“Our colleagues in the UPND who want to pretend that they have never seen anything wrong with this (current) Constitution…As far as I am concerned, they were the first to cry for dialogue. They wanted dialogue, they wanted Patricia Scotland (Commonwealth Secretary General) to come and do dialogue; they wanted the Church to hold the National Dialogue Forum (NDF). Almost everything they cried for, the government gave them!”
And Ngulube questioned how the UPND would govern the country with the current Constitution, which was full of lacunas.
“If they (UPND) are ever going to get into power, how will they govern this country with all these laws that are disjunctured? The same Constitution giving you three different positions on every situation. For example, where the Constitution says, ‘if President-Elect is not the incumbent and there is an election petition he must hand (over) power to Mr Speaker’ that is what Article 101 is saying. The President in office hands over power to Mr Speaker during the process of the election petition, but we are forgetting that the same Constitution in Article 81 dissolves Parliament. So, Parliament dissolves 90 days before the general election, including Mr Speaker, he is dissolved. Then, when you elect a new President, the new MPs will now come and elect their own Speaker, but the Constitution is telling you that you should hand over power to Mr Speaker, so which Speaker are we going to handle power to? Because you cannot summon Parliament until you are sworn-in as President,” argued Ngulube.