THE opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) says it is considering reporting some ministers to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for attempted bribery regarding Constitutional Amendment Bill number 10.
And leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Jack Mwiimbu has alleged that the reason why Parliament adjourned indefinitely on Wednesday afternoon was not because of the outbreak of coronavirus but the ruling party fell short of the numbers needed to pass the bill.
Meanwhile, UPND chairman for economic affairs Situmbeko Musokotwane says the novel coronavirus is more deadly on the economy than it is on human beings because its effect slows down economic activities.
Speaking during a press briefing held at UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema’s New Kasama residence in Lusaka, Choma central member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa said the party had evidence in form of messages and voice recordings to prove that PF attempted to bribe its members of parliament to vote for Bill 10.
“We are consulting the legal team of the UPND as members of parliament to consider reporting some ministers to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for attempting members of parliament of the UPND to vote for Bill 10. And we do have recordings, we were recording them as they were negotiating with us. We have messages which they can’t delete, where they were promising ‘let’s go we pick a brand new VX at Toyota Zambia and a bunch of money’. They were moving shamelessly with sacks of money at the precincts of Parliament, shame on them! And we challenge them to refute whether what we are saying is not true, they are liars! Stop deceiving the nation, the nation is hurting. They can rest be assured, we will not change our resolve. Zambians want a change of government and it’s coming in 2021,” said Mweetwa.
And Mwiimbu who is also Monze central member of parliament said the outbreak of coronavirus was not the real reason for the adjournment of Parliament.
“We are aware that they’ve attributed the adjournment to the outbreak of coronavirus. If that was supposed to be the case, they should have not allowed the debate to commence on Tuesday because my point of order was made on Tuesday before the commencement of any debate, but they decided to ignore my point of order and resolved to continue with their debates. The point of order was on the reasons why Parliament should continue [sitting] when there was a Statutory Instrument which proscribes meetings as a result of the coronavirus, they ignored it. But yesterday (Wednesday) when they noted that they didn’t have numbers, that point of order was raised again by the government itself before the ruling on the point of order which I raised on Monday could be made. And they quickly jumped on it in order to serve face,” Mwiimbu said.
“As a result of wanting to serve face with warm water, they decided that we could not continue with Parliamentary deliberations because of the outbreak of the coronavirus. Members of the press, if the reasoning is genuine that government functions cannot continue as a result of the coronavirus, why is it that today at the Cathedral of the Holy cross, there is a State funeral there where more than 1000 people have congregated. If they are convinced that that is the reason, why have they gone ahead to do that? Why have allowed so many other public functions to continue if there is an outbreak of the coronavirus? It is therefore our understanding and conviction that the decision by Parliament to suspend the sittings was merely to serve face because they don’t have the numbers. You are aware that for you to pass the Bill to second reading, you need to have 2/3 majority. We have done numbers and considering the number of MPs who were on our side, the PF did not have the numbers to pass the Bill. Hence they were jittery that if they proceeded to a vote, they were not going to have the numbers and the Bill was going to flop.”
Mwiimbu said UPND stood ready to fight Bill 10 whenever it was brought back to parliament.
“We are aware of their intentions that they want to bring the Bill again when Parliament resume. Whatever time that will be, that doesn’t scare us in any way. As far as we are concerned as UPND members of parliament on behalf of the people of Zambia, we are resolved to ensure that Bill 10 is defeated when its brought back on the floor of the house. We have the numbers to ensure that the Bill is defeated. I also want to put it on record that we were very much encouraged by a number of Cabinet ministers who were urging us to ensure that we continue walking out because a number of Cabinet ministers in the PF government do not want Bill 10 because they know that it’s evil. We want to thank those PF ministers to continue encouraging us. Thank you PF and Cabinet ministers for encouraging us, we are proud of you. Continue the good spirit on behalf of the people of Zambia, that is how it’s supposed to be if you are a genuine leader. That is the patriotism which you talk about. We are happy that you have always been with us quietly,” said Mwiimbu, who assured Zambians that the party position would not change.
Speaking during the same event, Musokotwane said government needed to come out clearly on what social and economic measures it was putting in place to protect the country’s economy from a meltdown.
“With some of the health restrictions being implemented like restricted movements and gatherings, it disrupts a lot of economic activity. Economic activity is about buying and selling. My expenditure is someone else’s income, that’s the way the economy works. So if for one reason or another I cannot spend because I cannot go to Johannesburg to spend money because of coronavirus, it means an income of somebody in Johannesburg will be zero. the government needs to come out and explain clearly what social and economic measures they are putting in place to protect our economy from a meltdown that is going to injure an economy that is already on its knees. Let’s not take coronavirus to be just a mere health issue. The more serious consequences of coronavirus if not handled properly will be a shutdown of the economy of Zambia,” said Musokotwane.