GOVERNMENT Chief Whip Brian Mundubile says the party will not force any member of parliament to take the party position on the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019.
And Mundubile claims the party is not enticing any opposition member of parliament to support Bill 10, but rather, encouraging people to debate it on the floor of the house.
In an interview, Mundubilie said it was difficult to force MPs to take a party position as the Constitution was about the people of Zambia and it was a document of conscience.
“A Constitution is a document of conscience; it is not about the party anymore. You remember everybody says a Constitution is about the people of Zambia; If you take PF and look at their members; if you take UPND and look at their membership and all the political parties together, you will realise that there are more people outside political parties; maybe all political parties may gunner three million people then you will have 14 million people outside political parties,” Mudunbile said.
“Now can you imagine if we forced our members to vote on party lines when it comes to the Constitution? Because the Constitution is about the people of Zambia. So, it becomes difficult now because you are going to put your members of parliament against chiefs for instance; you are going to put your members of parliament against the youths; against the women; against the disabled and others. That is why our position is clear we have allowed our members of parliament to listen to the people’s voices who are the majority because membership at party level is much lower than the population of Zambia.”
He said considering Bill 10 on party lines might lead to a Constitution that is against what the people want.
“When we go on the floor, we begin to debate the amendments one by one; so what we expect is that all the MPs are coming in with the people’s voices and in this case, we are saying what, as an MP who lives in this community, what the position is; for instance you say deputy ministers as long as you are in Zambia, we know that nobody wants deputy ministers the majority have said no! We expect that when members of parliament come to parliament, they are going to vote against that particular one because the majority of the voices said no,” Mundubile said.
“When you talk about the Christian clause for instance, when you listen to radios, newspapers, you realise that it received a lot accolades because many people said ‘yes I think we need an identity’. So that is what it means if in the end the sum total is that you come up with a constitution that speaks to the voices of the people and that way that Constitution will stand the test of time because it came from the voices of the people. If you don’t do that, because party’s have different positions based on their membership and leadership isn’t so? You can come up with a constitution that is against what the people want. So for us it is more about the clauses the Justice Minister has put forward. So as an MP, go in line with what the people are saying!”
And Mundubile claimed the party was not enticing any opposition member of parliament to support Bill 10, but rather, encouraging people to debate it on the floor of the house.
“The responsibility of every MP is to speak in Parliament. There is nothing wrong with encouraging members of parliament to come to Parliament. As the Whip, it is part of my job. First of all, what should happen on the floor of the House is the debate. So if somebody says ‘no no stay away!’ that is a different thing all together. We need to distinguish between the two; we have an obligation, we are all paid to be in Parliament. The angle of voting for or against Bill 10 should not arise because Bill 10 is not one item; they are about 270 clauses in the Constitution. It is not possible for you to hate everything in there. So the argument that ‘no! shoot it down doesn’t apply’, because okay how can you say you don’t want the interest of the youths to be promoted? How can you say you don’t want the interests of the women to be promoted?” Mundubile asked.
“Some of the clauses are just consequential amendments to clean the Constitution. So you can’t say you don’t want it! You can’t say anybody hates Presidential petition period to be moved from 14 days to 30 days, everybody wants it. The biggest problem we have had on the political scene in Zambia has been on the Public Order Act of 1955; the problems that we have in Zambia are to do with the Electoral Process Act. Political parties especially represented by their MPs have been saying can we amend the Public Order Act. Now you realise that, that subsidiary law the Public Order Act has a link to the Constitution so you can’t start by amending the Public Order Act, you must amend the Constitution first. So the argument is when you just issue a blanket instruction to say that ‘don’t support Bill 10’, it becomes difficult because yourself a day before you are saying ‘the police are stopping us! This Public Order Act must be amended’ but you also know that, that public order is linked to the Constitution. So sometimes some of these arguments we should take them with a pinch of salt, ” he said.
“Supporting the bill is another thing, being in the House is another; first of all come to the House; don’t look at the bill in totality, it is wrong to judge the bill in totality because a bill is a set of proposals…Look at the calibre of MPs that stayed; Professor (Goeffrey) Lungwangwa, go and look at his CV, it will tell you that this is a principled man, a cultured man; look at (Teddy) Kasonso look at all the MPs that stayed there. The caliber will tell you that they did it on principle. These are men and women who are out there to do that which they came for, to represent their people.”
When asked if the PF were dragging the debate to lobby for support to pass the bill, Mundubile said many MPs needed to add their voice to the debate.
“With so much debate going on, imagine if we had debated for 30 minutes, what was going to be the talk today? We needed people to exhaust to speak to their people. Look at the controversy that has been here so we have allowed the debate so that people can speak otherwise you can say it was a constitution which was done in the night. We are there to debate and argue the cases,” said Mundubile.
“It will go through; it will go through! Amongst the clear advantages is that one: you know that as a youth the opportunities of coming to parliament is very minimal because you have to compete with me; I will go in the campaign with five land cruisers; I would have gotten my gratuity from Parliament you can’t compete. Youths representation is one of the big advantages in Bill 10; that is one big advantage the mixed member representation. Two: we are going into elections next year are we sure that we are looking at that gloomy time when 14 days begin to haunt everyone; people can’t produce evidence, people have not been heard all those complications in 2016 are likely to comeback if we don’t clean up the Constitution. The same complaints of MPs ‘no! I was arrested in my constituency when I was trying to see my people’ all those thing will still be coming back.”