Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 must be withdrawn from Parliament because the uncoordinated information on the proposed law has made it difficult for Zambians to trust it, says the Copperbelt University Senior Administration, Professional and Technical Staff Union (CUSASTU).
In a statement, Thursday, Union general secretary Lukanga Kapeshi urged for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill as the amendment process was devoid of inclusiveness for divergent views and misrepresentation of information from members of the Executive, the Legislature, and CSOs.
“We welcome the refinement of our Republican Constitution because we, too, want a Constitution that will stand a test of time. However, we have observed that this amendment process is devoid of inclusiveness for divergent views and there is misrepresentation of information from members of the Executive, the Legislature, the Civil Society Organisations and more so individuals, who participated in this process. From the aforementioned process and the legislation and compliance with Constitution requirements, stakeholders, who participated in this very process, have expressed mixed feelings and suspicion on the genuineness of the Executive to agree to the recommendations of the parliamentary Select Committee on the floor of the House,” Kapeshi stated.
“The Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) is on record to say that, ‘Bill 10 is intact as was presented and the Select Committee report is not binding. This connotes that Bill 10 will be presented and debated on the floor of Parliament in its current form and accordingly the recommendations of the Select Committee may be taken into consideration by those who enjoy majority of numbers in Parliament. This is the true reflection of the procedure of what will happen. We thank you, Minister, for being so truthful! On the other hand, the Deputy Parliamentary Chief Whip of the Patriotic Front (Tutwa Ngulube) says government will adopt in its current form the report of the parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10, and that the Committee has already submitted the report to Parliament. He also says the report of the Select Committee has taken on board the concerns of various stakeholders, hence the need to be supported.”
But he added that the information disseminated about Bill 10 was not well-coordinated, hence the need to have it withdrawn.
“Above all, we have heard that the President has blamed those who are opposed to the enactment of Bill 10 as adversaries of progress and, thus, has instructed Ministers, members of parliament, the Patriotic Front leadership to tell the truth about Bill 10. Meanwhile, we have heard from constitutional lawyers blaming the Judiciary for betraying Zambians as well as failing to act as a safeguard of Bill 10 when it disallowed the challenging of the same in the Courts,” he stated.
“As can be observed from the above statements from the government and other concerned individuals, Bill 10 information is not well-coordinated by the statements, hence divergent views from those opposing it. We, too, join others in petitioning the President of Zambia, the Attorney General and the National Assembly over the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 to safeguard the interests of the Zambian people. If need be, as we hear that only the President of the Republic of Zambia and the Minister of Justice have absolute power to withdraw the Bill out of Parliament, let it be withdrawn.”
Kapeshi stated the un-coordinated flow of information to the general public had made it difficult for most Zambians to trust Bill 10.
“Why is the government so agitated with opposing views when they are the source of misinformation, un-coordinated flow of information to the general public? How do Zambian workers trust you to deliver a people-driven Constitution amendment? The very things you want to introduce are the very things Zambians rejected in the 1991 and 1996 Constitution. The 2016 Amendment Constitution of Zambia is the closest that we, Zambians, have been craving for far too long,” stated Kapeshi.
“The information from the very institutions presenting this Bill on the Floor of the House is flawed and not coordinated. The effects and benefits of the Constitution affects the Zambian citizenry and, therefore, it’s beyond partisan politics. We urge lawmakers to self-introspect and make the most suitable and beneficial judgement in this regard. We would be happy if we were assured that the recommendations of the Select Committee would be taken into consideration by Patriotic Front members of parliament on the Floor because they enjoy the majority of numbers in Parliament. We demand a people-driven Amendment Constitution to stand a test of time!”