Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo says Monze UPND member of parliament Jack Mwiimbu lied when he said the delimitation exercise would go ahead whether or not Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 goes through.
And Electoral Commission Of Zambia (ECZ) acting public relations manager Sylvia Bwalya says the proposals under the delimitation exercise can only be effected through an amendment of the constitution.
Speaking at a public discussion forum on the way forward regarding Bill 10, Mwiimbu, who is leader of the opposition, said the delimitation process was not dependent on the constitution amendment process.
“Honorable Tutwa Ngulube and the PF has been going round the country telling people that if you don’t accept bill number 10, there will be no delimitation. Honorable members, are you accepting that the current delimitation is being done under Bill 10? The current delimitation is being done under Article 57 and 58 of the current Constitution. With or without bill number 10, delimitation will take place. You must be aware that in 2015, we created six constituencies, there was no Bill 10, and we were using the amended Constitution whose provisions have been taken on board in the current Constitution. So do not mislead people over the provisions of the law,” said Mwiimbu.
But a press briefing, Saturday, Kampyongo Mwiimbu had opted to mislead the people.
“I just came back from my constituency where I was sensitizing my people about the proposed constitution Amendment and what was surprising to me in that Forum discussion, was to see a senior member of parliament, a senior lawyer for that matter, opting to misleading people with regards to the issue of delimitation which is a very important national exercise. In his submission, honorable Jack Mwiimbu was saying ‘you don’t need Bill 10 in order to do delimitations’. He cited an example of six constituencies that were delimited prior to 2016 elections. Now, what he forgot to tell the nation is that the creation of those constituencies was a consequential exercise as a result of the newly created districts. In article 59, it means that the districts can be delimitated in more than one constituency. However, the constituency cannot be delimited into two districts. In short, a constituency cannot accommodate two districts,” Kampyongo said.
“So it is in this that the ECZ ensured that in those districts which were created and ended up having more than two districts such as the Siavonga. When Chirundu District was created, you had Siavonga constituency hosting two districts in order to avoid that scenario which is not provided for in the constitution, that constituency was delimited and five others. So it was erroneous and incorrect of him to say constituencies can actually be divided. So you can see how mischievous and it’s unfortunate that our colleagues in the UPND want to listen to their own voices and they don’t want to face facts as they are. I want you to go to the ECZ and see if what honorable Jack Mwiimbu was telling the nation is correct. So to try and mislead the nation that the exercise can be done without harmonizing this constitution is not only misleading to the nation but an exercise meant to make people not trust those of us who are elected to represent them.”
Kampyongo insisted that it was necessary to amend the constitution in order to finalize the delimitation process.
“If you go to article 68 (1) says a member of parliament shall be elected in accordance with article 47. Clause (2), the National Assembly shall consist of 156 members directly elected on the basis of the simple majority votes under the first past the post system, not more than eight nominated members, the Vice president, the speaker, the first and second speaker. Now already the number of parliament is locked in the constitution, so if you don’t deal with this provision in order to allow…for example, if the ECZ is going to delimit the country into 200 constituencies, how do you harmonize that with this provision which is already specifically talking about the number of elected MPs [being] 156 including those six constituencies which were delimited as a consequence of those new districts that were created prior to 2016?” Kampyongo asked.
“Article 149 clause 1 [says that] the President may, subject to the approval of the National Assembly, create or divide or merge two provinces as prescribed. Clause 2, a province shall consist of such number of districts as prescribed. Clause 7, where the National Assembly ratifies the establishment of a new province under this article, ECZ shall delimitate boundaries of the province created. It is only under those circumstances. In article 58, 59 and article 68 provides for the delimitation of constituencies.”
Kampyongo also urged organizers of such public forums to create an environment for peaceful discussions.
“I basically wanted to make a comment on the forum that was held yesterday at Intercontinental Hotel and from the ministers’ point of view, we were concerned with the way the forum was held and it would appear that those organized it do much work in order for them to create an environment suitable for such kind of discussions and I think even the moderator who was moderating had difficulties in order to maintain order in that meeting. What I would like to say to the people of Zambia is that they need to be alert of those of us they have elected to represent them and they should scrutinize us for what we do in terms of holding us accountable. I must commend my colleagues that were able to be part of that discussion Honorable Tutwa Ngulube and Honorable Sebastian Kopulande for at least trying to remain calm as the hostilities were trying to drown them,” said Kampyongo.
Meanwhile in a statement, Bwalya said the delimitation exercise required an amendment to the Constitution.
“The Electoral Commission of Zambia wishes to inform stakeholders and the general public of the legal framework that guides the delimitation of Constituencies and wards, an exercise that the Commission embarked on in 2019, which is still undergoing a review process following the submission of proposals from stakeholders and the general public. It must be noted that currently article 68 (2) of the Constitution provides that the number of constituencies are 156. The number of seats is therefore entrenched in the constitution. In the event that the outcome of the delimitation exercise is to recommend an increase in the number of constituencies, from the current 156, this would require an amendment of Article 68(2) via the constitutional amendment bill. Once article 68 (2) is amended to increase the number of Constituencies, the implementation would take effect on the next dissolution of parliament,” stated Bwalya.
“The Commission reiterates that the delimitation exercise is a process which is governed by article 58 of the Constitution and it provides that the Commission should undertake delimitation of Constituencies and wards within a period of not more than 10 years. The proposals under the delimitation exercise can only be effected through an amendment of the constitution where there is a proposal to increase the number of seats from the current 156. It must further be noted that: Delimitation of Constituencies is subject to Constitutional Amendment Process (Amendment Bill). Delimitation of Wards is subject to Statutory Instrument issued by the Minister of Local Government. Creation of Polling Districts and Polling Stations is done by the Chief Electoral Officer through a Gazette notice.”