JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says it is Zambians who will suffer miserably if Bill 10 fails to be enacted into law because President Edgar Lungu will still win next year’s elections without it.
And Lubinda yesterday lost his temper after a caller told him that he had overstayed as Kabwata member of parliament when he featured on a special interview on Hot FM where he was discussing Bill 10.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says Zambians should trust him when he says he will present amendments to Bill 10 in line with the views of the people.
But Constitutional Lawyer John Sangwa says he cannot be quiet while people like Lubinda tell lies that Zambians will suffer if Bill 10 doesn’t pass.
The Patriotic has 89 member of parliament, the UPND has 56, MMD 4, NDC one and FDD also has one member in the House. Independent members of parliament are 14. This means to make two thirds and pass Bill 10, the Patriotic Front needs 111 votes, thus all its members plus all the 14 independent MPs, six MPs from MMD, NDC and FDD to be present on the day of voting and to vote in favour of the Bill. The PF will also need at least two extra MPs from the UPND.
When Bill 10 was last taken to parliament and deferred, UPND members walked out of the house, but two defied the party position and remained. These were Nalikwanda member of parliament Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa and his Solwezi East counterpart Teddy Kasonso.
On the other hand, UPND claims to have the support of the NDC MP, one of the four MMD MPs and four of the 14 Independent MPs
Yesterday, when asked what the consequences of not passing Bill 10, which he is set to present this afternoon, were, Lubinda said PF would not lose anything if the Bill failed but that Zambians would be the ones to suffer.
“Some people have been saying ‘Lubinda will not move amendments, we can’t trust him’. But I have said I am going to move amendments and even before the time comes, you say I am a liar, I am just sweet-talking. Why don’t you wait until the time for me to present amendments comes and if I don’t then you hold me accountable? It is allowed for any member of parliament to walk in and out of Parliament at will. However, they have to justify their actions. We are accountable to the people… how did the process start? Was it started by PF secretary general? No, it was not the PF secretary general Davies Mwila who started this process. Did this process go to Parliament and was it approved by Parliament? Yes. Where was it first raised? In Parliament. Who backed it? A back bencher. Did members of parliament vote? Yes. What was the outcome of the vote? 91 members of parliament supported the process. Where in that have you seen PF?” Lubinda asked.
“Why do you want PF to be the victors when this is passed? It is not PF, it is Parliament. In this process, PF stands neither to win nor to lose. The referendum failed, did PF lose? No! Edgar Chagwa Lungu won with 50 per cent plus one. He didn’t lose elections, he’s governing and he’s President. Who lost? The Zambian people. This is the case also with this matter; it is not the question of PF against the others, no! Please no! President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is going to campaign and win elections with or without Bill 10. But let’s see if the Zambians will remain the same with or without Bill 10.”
Meanwhile, Lubinda lost his cool after a caller named Francis Namanda told him that he had outlived his usefulness as a representative of Kabwata.
“He says ‘Lubinda has overstayed’, look my friend; this Lubinda you are talking about has never imposed himself on any governance system, not even on any political party. When I left the UPND, I had been elected chairman for information. Ever since I was elected, no one else has been elected in that position, meaning you have never held elections. You belong to groupings where people overstay without the mandate of the people, not me. Yes I am proud to have been elected four times continuously by the people of Kabwata and you [know], Kabwata is the most cosmopolitan constituency in the country. So for them to choose me four times, Namanda, it means they see more in me than you think you can see in me. And I have no apologies to make to you Namada and it is up to me whether I want to continue or not, not up to you Namanda. So go ahead campaign and I would be very happy if you campaigned against me because who do you think will listen to you Mr Namanda!” exclaimed an angry Lubinda, who later in the programme apologized, twice, for losing his cool.
And commenting on UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s continued encouragement to the members of parliament to shoot down Bill 10, Lubinda appealed to the opposition leader to allow Zambians judge for themselves for once.
“One who is always suspicious of everything is himself very suspicious. For a person to say this process is deceptive, one must say ‘here you are, they have said that they want to do this but look at what they’ve done with regard to this Bill’. Then you will be heard. But just to say generally ‘I can’t trust them because they are deceitful’… here is the Bill, read it and show us where you see that there is deception. Don’t be general and just say they are deceitful. But for is this matter is not about deceit and we have not been deceitful at all. At what point have we veered away from the provisions of the law? At what have we veered away from what we said? Isn’t he (HH) the same person who was saying who was saying we wanted to bar him from contesting elections because he hasn’t been councilor or MP? But that has been laid bare. Not a single citizen made such a submission to the Ministry of Justice, NDF or to the Committee of Parliament. Who then is trading on misinformation?” he asked.
“So what I will say to Hakainde is please let the people for once read the document. You have so much money; can you publish all these documents in all the media houses? Let people read for themselves so that they can tell if it’s true we are being deceitful. It’s not right for you Hakainde to be calling other people names. All the time you are calling us names; we are deceitful, we are liars, we are untrustworthy… this process has laid everything bare. Now we shall see who the liar is. Where is it written in any of these documents that President Lungu’s tenure will be extended to seven years? Where is it written that Cabinet shall be printing money? Not a single person every said Cabinet shall start printing money. But that’s what he has been telling people. Please Hakainde, for once; allow national governance to prevail for once.”
Lubinda also said he was willing to hand over his gratuity next year to anyone who would provide a clause in Bill 10 confirming that PF wished to extend President Lungu’s tenure of office.
“I am about to get my gratuity next year and I really need it. [But] whoever can come to this radio station and show you that ‘you see here, this clause is intending to extend the tenure of office of President Lungu illegally’, they qualify to get my gratuity on my behalf,” said Lubinda.
Lubinda is spreading lies – Sangwa
But in an interview, Sangwa said Lubinda was spreading lies because there was nothing in Bill 10 which was in the people’s best interest.
How can I be quiet while people like Lubinda are spreading lies? He says the people will suffer miserably if the bill doesn’t pass. What is the connection between the two? The people are suffering because of mismanagement and incompetence. That’s why people are suffering; it has nothing to do with Bill 10. It is irresponsible for a leader to try and rule out of fear. You are elected to work for the people, for their welfare, to maintain their peace. In fact, the very essence of government is to take care of the interests of the people. Look at all the governments in the world; they are all frantically trying to see how they can protect their own people from coronavirus. That’s the responsibility of government is to protect the people because it is the people that elected them. So you cannot threaten the people to say if the Bill 10 doesn’t go through then Zambians will suffer mercilessly, then it means you have failed as a leader. So there is no connection between Bill 10 and people suffering. In fact, when you look at it, people are already suffering and Bill 10 is not the solution,” Sangwa said.
“The solution is honesty, integrity and hard work on the part of government. Eliminate corruption, make sure that you the right people in the right places, bring about competent people to run the affairs of government. This country can be turned around. So let them not lie to the people. There is no connection between the economic challenges that the country is facing and Bill 10. Bill 10 will not solve the problem. In fact, why didn’t they do a white paper or just a government paper to make a case why Bill 10 is required? We could have analysed that document. But there is nothing [that Bill 10 intends to achieve], they are lying. [Mind you], a law is not an end in itself, it’s simply a means to an end. Even if you have a law, you still have to work hard and make sure that you implement the terms of that law. Let us encourage the people to read, there is no connection between what they are telling them and Bill 10. But there is a clear connection between Bill 10 and increasing the powers of the President.”
He said Bill 10 was not in the people’s interest.
“Bill 10 has nothing to do with the interest of the people; it has everything to do with taking away power from the people and putting them in the President; taking power away from National Assembly and putting in the President; and taking away power from the judiciary and putting it in the President. The ultimate beneficiary of Bill 10 is not the Zambian people, it is the President,” Sangwa insisted.
And in his message to members of parliament, Sangwa urged them to reject the bill.
“My encouragement to the MPs is for once; let them put aside their interests. Let them be patriotic and do what is in the best interest of the country. Bill 10 is not in the best interest of the country. If they do, they will simply be betraying their constituencies. Nobody in government or PF has made a convincing argument to support any of those things. The way they are making Bill 10 to sound like, it’s a magic wand which will solve all the problems of Zambians. But that is an illusion and it is deceit and it is dishonest…Just to give you an example, right now Bill 10 as it stands, it says ‘if you retire, and your employer does not give you your benefits then you are supposed to remain on the payroll until you are paid’. Bill 10 seeks to repeal that, how is that beneficial to the people?” Sangwa asked.
Sangwa also said President Lungu was lying about the Bill.
“It’s very difficult to keep quiet when people are telling lies. I heard President Lungu urging people to support Bill 10 if they want women and youth empowerment. That’s not true. It’s a lie. There is nothing in Bill 10 that talks about that. Even if they are talking about a mixed member representation, that can not stand at this point because it can only be in an Act of Parliament which we have not seen,” said Sangwa.
“If the President believes that Bill 10 will give youth and women empowerment, let him prepare a paper and lay his arguments. Let him demonstrate how the youths and women will be empowered. The President has an obligation to tell the truth to the people. There is nothing in Bill 10 that talks about women empowerment.”