Government Chief Whip Brian Mundubile says enacting Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 will help the country in maintaining peace during and after the 2021 general election.
And Mundubile has insisted that Bill 10 will not be withdrawn from Parliament because it characterizes what Zambians wanted changed from the 2016 Amended Constitution.
In an interview, Mundubile said the 2016 general election indicated that the current electoral process had gaps, which needed to be amended in order for the country to remain peaceful and free from tension during and after next year’s election.
He argued that in order to maintain the country’s peace ahead of next year’s polls, enacting Bill 10 into law was necessary.
Bill 10 comes up for Second Reading in the next parliamentary session, which reconvenes, Tuesday, February 10.
“Obviously, I think one thing to note, as a country, we remain very peaceful. But for that peace to continue to prevail, we must come up with laws that regulate conduct. If we have noticed weaknesses in the Constitution, weaknesses in our laws, we must amend them so that we make progress. For instance, there have been a lot of challenges, a lot of accusations, because the Electoral Process Act needs to be amended; there has been a lot of accusations and calls to amend the Public Order Act; there has been a lot of calls and concerns regarding the gaps to the Constitution. So, this document came up for proposal at the NDF (National Dialogue Forum), even at Parliament you realize that these three documents are actually before Parliament now. So, if, indeed, what we want is peace for a winner to remain a winner, and a loser to remain a loser, we need to clean up these laws because these laws were tested in the 2016 elections or after the elections and, clearly, they manifested some gaps that need to be cured,” Mundubile argued.
“So, if people are not interested in curing those gaps, then it will be very difficult for the Zambian people to hear them when they cry out tomorrow. Because if, as someone was saying, you keep on complaining that, ‘someone has been stealing my votes!’ And somebody comes up and says, ‘can we put burglar bars’, you the first person to say, ‘you don’t want burglar bars,’ then people, now, begin to question your real intentions or your cries are questioned: are they genuine or you would want there to be burglar bars? I think that is where we are as regards to the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 because I think it addresses a number of issues that arose during and after the 2016 general election. So, those who would want chaos are maybe pushing their luck too far. But if they really want us to clean up the electoral system, to create an even playing field of public order, let us go ahead and amend these laws, including the Constitution.”
And Mundubile insisted that Bill 10 will not be withdrawn from Parliament because it characterizes what Zambians wanted changed from the 2016 Constitution.
“You know that Bill 10 was crafted, not by PF, not even the Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda) or Cabinet…it was a product of the National Dialogue Forum and this was a forum for the Zambian people. So, the PF had its own position; they were defeated in some of the things they wanted, they succeeded in some so it is not about PF, it is not about political parties, it is about the Zambian people. For us, we remain very democratic; we have not taken advantage of our position being the Executive or our positions having numbers in Parliament; we have said, ‘can we hear what the Zambian people want?’ What the Zambian people (want) has been mentioned, has been stated (in) different platforms, including the Select Committee. So, when we look at the Select Committee, we are saying that is the voice of the Zambian people and we want to go with those recommendations that have been made by the people in the Select Committee,” Mundubile said.
“I have heard some people say, ‘let us withdraw the Bill and add (the recommendations from the Select Committee)’ it amounts to nothing because even if you added them when the Bill comes, it won’t be Bill 10 anymore because Bill 10 is as what was presented. When you add something else, it won’t be Bill 10 anymore, maybe it will be ‘Bill 12 or Bill 13.’ So, when that ‘Bill 13’ comes to Parliament, it needs to go for scrutiny again…you get my point? So, that is the point that should be made clear; it will not be Bill 10 when will make those additions, but as opposed to doing that, what we want the people to say, including professional organizations, are they agreeable to the amendments that the (Select) Committee made? If the answer is yes, the Zambian people, professional bodies, NGOs can actually call on MPs to say: ‘we like these recommendations, can you please make sure that you go with these recommendations’.”
He added that the inclusion of the recommendations made by the parliamentary Select Committee into the final amendment solely relied on the members of parliament.
“So, what will happen, then, is that when the Bill is being presented on the floor of the House alongside the Committee recommendations, MPs will be debating in support of these recommendations because they have been persuaded by the Zambian people, NGOs, professional bodies. So, ultimately, the Minister of Justice, now, will bring those (recommendations) in form of amendments to be tabled on the floor of the House; that is when they will be included in the final document,” said Mundubile.
“Parliamentarians have resolved that there have been a lot of engagement between church leaders, citizens and the MPs because it is the people of Zambia we represent. As MPs, they have been engaging us, to speak to us concerning Bill 10 and also concerning the Committee recommendation. So, I think we had instructions from the Zambian people and this is exactly what we have been talking about; it is not about us, we represent the people of Zambia so we don’t go there with our individual positions or one-man’s position.”