NATIONAL Democratic Congress (NDC) leader Chishimba Kambwili says the only reason he is quiet over the decision by the party’s Roan member of parliament Joseph Chishala to support Bill 10 is because it is an offence to force a parliamentarian to vote otherwise on a bill.

Meanwhile, Chishala insists that he has not been compromised by supporting Bill 10 and that he has not shifted to the ruling PF.

Speaking to journalists after a court appearance, Friday, Kambwili said that he has never changed his stance on Bill 10 and that the party will handle Chishala’s case internally.

“I have never changed my position about Bill 10, I have never changed my position and I will never change my position. I instructed Chishala to go to a caucus which was a day before, and by the way, he was in my house, we were with the veep [Josephs Akafumba] up to 13:00 hours and our instructions are very clear – to go against Bill 10 so those allegations are just rubbish. My vice president can bear witness,” Kambwili said in response to accusations that he had changed his position on Bill 10.

“We were with Chishala up to one o’clock, he moved from our house to go to Parliament and we gave him clear instructions, so we are not worried about those allegations because our stance on Bill 10 remains the same, that’s our party position, NDC position. You know that in parliament, you cannot force an MP, it’s against the principles of parliament and it’s an offence, so don’t think our keeping quiet is the fact that [we’ve changed our position], we know that it is an offence to force an MP to vote otherwise, but that does not mean we are not doing anything, we will handle that matter internally.”

And speaking at a joint press briefing led by Government Chief Whip Brian Mundubile at Lusaka’s Pamodzi Hotel, Friday, Chishala argued that he belonged to the NDC and insisted that he did not see any sense in walking out of Parliament when the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 was re-introduced and debated last Tuesday.

He also insisted that he had not been compromised by the PF, neither had he ditched the NDC in favour of the ruling party.

“All that propaganda going round that I have been compromised; I have shifted, I have gone to PF, that is a blue lie! What I can tell the nation and the people of Roan is that I am still NDC, and I am in Parliament as NDC. I am not in Parliament as PF. Therefore, whatever move I make in Parliament, I make it for the sake of people of Roan. My stay in Parliament, I do it according to the way I feel it will benefit the people of Roan. There is no need for me to walk out of Parliament. I want to assure the people of Roan that I will never walk out of Parliament at all cost, I would rather fight from inside the House. I don’t see any sense of walking out because the people of Roan voted for me to debate in Parliament and not to walk out. I don’t see how I will formulate laws outside Parliament; laws are formulated from inside Parliament, so walking out, for me, it doesn’t make any sense,” said Chishala.

And Kabwe Central PF member of parliament Tutwa Ngulube, who is also Government Deputy Chief Whip, charged that it was illegal for the party to withdraw Bill 10.

“If you look at our Republican Constitution, as adopted on August 24, 1991, Article 79 is the only clause in the Constitution that talks about alterations to the Constitution. And if you read the whole of Article 79, you do not even see the Select Committee; you don’t even see the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), you don’t even see the consultations people talk about. But I think the PF thought this is a very important process and we don’t want to leave anyone behind and so they listened to the views of the people…,” Ngulube said.

“And the way Article 79 was framed as it stands, you cannot amend Article 79 without a referendum. So, those people, who are saying, ‘we are not happy with the content, we need more consultations…’ first of all, they have to be reminded to change Article 79, or to add or subtract anything, we need a referendum. So, Article 79 is cast in concrete unless you hold a referendum to include issues that our colleagues in the UPND have been trying to raise as far as we are concerned, the process which Bill 10 passed was in conformity with the provisions of Article 79.”

Bwana Mkubwa PF member of parliament Dr Jonas Chanda said claims that Bill 10 would extend President Lungu’s tenure of office were propaganda.

“There has been propaganda that Bill 10 aims to extend the tenure of office of His Excellency, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, and his government. That is a lie and the problem with lies is that they have short legs; they get tired very quickly and you cannot defend them,” said Chanda.

And Lusaka Central PF member of parliament Margaret Mwanakatwe, who is former Minister of Finance, claimed that State House had no intention of printing money.

“…Article 71 by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) and the submission, which was made by the Central Bank, they wanted to be in tandem with the SADC protocol of 2009, which advises or recommends that only the main functions of the Bank, which is monetary functions remain in the Constitution and all the functions are put in subsidiary legislation, which the BoZ wanted. So, it was very clear that they wanted the functions of the Central Bank to remain in the Constitution and we were quite happy to listen to the submissions and we have maintained the functions of the Central Bank in the Constitution. So, they can be rest assured that we are not intending to print money in Cabinet or in the Ministry of Finance or State House,” said Mwanakatwe.

Nalikwanda UPND member of parliament Prof Geoffrey Lungwangwa stressed that Bill 10 would restore chiefs’ traditional authority in the country if passed.

“Article 165 is about our traditional leaderships’ authority. As we are all aware, there has been a lot of succession wrangles, whether it is in the Bemba Kingdom, the Gawa Undi Kingdom, the Litunga of the Barosteland,” said Prof Lungwangwa.