Leader of the Opposition Jack Mwiimbu says Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo’s argument that the delimitation exercise by the Electoral Commission of Zambia cannot proceed without amending the Constitution is defective and lacks legal backing.

And Mwiimbu has rebuked Justice Minister Given Lubinda’s critique of former Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) president Linda Kasonde and constitutional lawyer John Sangwa SC where the former insisted that he would not withdraw Bill 10 because the two lawyers are opposed to the Bill.

Meanwhile, Mwiimbu says the country’s economy is on it’s knees because the PF government has refused to honor the current provision of the law which requires Parliament to approve any loan contraction.

At a press briefing in Lusaka, Wednesday, Mwiimbu said Zambians should forgive Kampyongo for lying on the delimitation process because he may be ignorant pertaining to the provision of the Constitution that allowed the exercise to proceed.

“As UPND, we want to make responses, clarifications and comments pertaining to the topical issues arising out of the discussion we had pertaining to Bill 10. You may be aware that immediately after we had the forum at Intercontinental, government, through a number of Ministers and individuals, have made comments pertaining the forum we had. I am aware Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo made comments pertaining to the submission at the forum we had on issue of delimitation. In his report to the nation, he called me a liar and that I misled members of the public pertaining to the delimitation exercise that has been undertaken by the ECZ. I would like to first address this particular issue. Through you, the nation must be aware that the current delimitation of constituencies and wards by ECZ is based on the Article 58 and 59 of the Constitution of Zambia Act No. 2 of the Constitution of Zambia. It is also important to note that the delimitation exercise commenced way before Bill 10 was presented in August on the floor of the House,” Mwiimbu said.

“It therefore follows that the law the ECZ is using in delimitating the constituency and wards in the Republic of Zambia is the current law under Article 89. The law states that every after 10 years, the ECZ shall undertake a delimitation exercise of all the constituencies and wards in the Republic of Zambia. After they have done the necessary consultations with the people of Zambia, it will prepare a report and if that particular report is accepted, a Bill is presented to Parliament to amend the number of constituencies in the Republic of Zambia. It has nothing to do with Bill 10! This particular exercise is done independently even if there is no Bill 10, this particular exercise will go on because that is under the Constitution of Zambia. The argument by Honorable Kampyongo is that ‘there will be no delimitation unless Bill 10 is passed in Parliament.’ That argument is flawed and it has no constitutional backing!”

He explained that the delimitation exercise had been ongoing since Independence, further illustrating that Kampyongo’s argument lacked substance.

“What happens, as I indicated earlier on is, once they finalize the delimitation exercise, a Bill is presented to Parliament to increase the number of constituencies and this has been the process from the time of Independence. The constituencies in Zambia have not been static. Every after 10 years, constituencies increase or if it is required, the amendment of Constituency. For ease of reference and for members to understand the process, in 2015, arising from the creation of new districts in the Republic of Zambia, it was found that one constituency was falling into two districts. It was, therefore, decided that a Bill be presented to Parliament to amend the Constitution to increase the number of constituencies. Before 2016, we had 150 constituencies in this country and we increased the constituencies by six elected officials of Parliament, hence the number 156 that is reflected under Article 68,” he said.

“If, as I indicated, the ECZ submission is accepted, the amendment will be made to Article 68 to increase the number of constituencies independent of Bill 10. Fellow Zambians, you have to note that laws don’t operate retrospectively as I indicated, this process was started a long time ago. It had nothing to do with Bill 10. Even the ECZ when they went to make submission to the Select Committee, they did mention that this has nothing to do with Bill 10 because the law is already there. It, therefore, follows that the one who is lying to members of the public is Kampyongo! We may forgive him because he may be ignorant pertaining to the provision of the Constitution. On this particular one, as UPND, we are against what the PF are trying to do. What they are trying to do is they want to take out this particular important provision from the Constitution of Zambia to a subsidiary (piece of) legislation so that the delimitation of constituencies should not be done under the Constitution of Zambia and that is what they are proposing. As UPND, we are saying we are against that particular proposal because it is intended to give an advantage to the PF. As you are aware, the PF have the majority in Parliament and they can decide to create more constituencies in the areas they perceive to be strong.”

He insisted that Zambians must be part and parcel of any constitution amendment process.

“They must be part and parcel of the process. The people of Zambia are the ones who should come up with the Constitution. Once the issues are read, they are given to Parliament to enact because it is the work of the Parliament to do so, but the coming up of the Constitution is for the people of Zambia. PF has also decided to remove very critical clauses pertaining the election of the President. They have decided to remove and amend Article 101, 102, 103 and 104 pertaining to the election of the President. You are aware that in the current Constitution, there is a provision under 103 and 104 that in the event of the election of the (Republican) President is contested by petition, the sitting President is supposed to hand over power to an independent person, who is the Speaker…But because of the issues that arose after the last (2016) elections, they have decided to do away with this particular provision,” he said.

And Mwiimbu rebuked Lubinda for attacking Kasonde and Sangwa.

He stressed that the two lawyers should be given the due respect as learned lawyers who had done a lot for Zambia.

“Today, in News Diggers! Lubinda is asking: ‘who is Linda Kasonde? Who is John Sangwa?’ Let me make it very clear that Linda Kasonde and John Sangwa are learned lawyers, stakeholders and members of the public and concerned citizens who, like any other Zambian, would want to have a good Constitution that will reflect the will of the people. John Sangwa SC is a renowned constitutional lawyer. He is a senior lawyer in this country and he has done a lot for this nation. Linda Kasonde is also a renowned lawyer, she has stood on the correct side of the people throughout her career as a lawyer, as a president of LAZ and her record speaks for itself. I know that Lubinda is a student of law, but he should not belittle those who are seniors,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Monze lawmaker said Zambia’s economy was on its knees.

“Members of the public, you must be aware that, currently, the economy of Zambia is on its knees because the PF government have refused to honour the current provision of the law, which requires that Parliament plays an oversight law pertaining to the acquisition of debts. They want to take away that particular provision so that they can do what they want. Contraction of debt is not a small matter. Any debt that is contracted by the Zambian government affects the people of Zambia, hence the need that, that particular provision on debt contraction should not be removed from the Constitution. It must remain in the Constitution because it is the safeguard for the people of Zambia and the future of this country,” urged Mwiimbu.