JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda should desist from handling the Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 as if it is a game that the ruling party should win at all costs, says former Secretary to Cabinet Dr Sketchely Sacika.

And Dr Sacika says Bill 10 is a private member’s bill, and as such, government cannot propose any changes to it away from the National Dialogue Forum, NDF.

In an interview! Dr Sacika also said Zambia’s biggest challenge remains the deteriorating economy, which has afflicted the majority citizens, rather than the 2016 Amended Constitution.

He also reiterated widespread calls to completely withdraw it from Parliament, saying it has been rejected by parliamentarians.

“Bill 10 is a lost call and nothing good or permanent can come out of it. Handling the Bill as if it is a game, which the PF must win at all costs is wrong! Politics is the art of the possible and our leaders must learn to be practical. The NDF (National Dialogue Forum) was a legally-constituted constituent assembly and it drew its membership from political parties, church organisations, NGOs, trade unions etc. and the mandate given to NDF was to make amendments to the Constitution independent of government. When the assembly came up with Bill 10, Bill 10 is not a government Bill, it is a private members’ Bill, which Lubinda presented to Parliament for enactment on behalf of the NDF and not on behalf of government. Therefore, Lubinda has no authority to make amendments to it. Only the NDF can authorise such amendments because they are the owners of the Bill. If Bill 10 were a government Bill and not a private members’ Bill, Lubinda would have been entitled to make amendments. But now he cannot,” Dr Sacika said.

“What Lubinda is trying to do in Parliament, therefore, is illegal because he cannot amend Bill 10 not being the author of the Bill, and the Bill not being a government Bill. Since the NDF has ceased to exist, Parliament should approve the Bill as it is or reject it in its entirety. The question of amending the Bill is out because it is a private members’ Bill. Now, in light of the Nakacinda Report, it is clear that Bill 10 in its entirety does not enjoy the support of Parliament. In this case, Lubinda should withdraw the Bill because it has been rejected by Parliament, including the PF parliamentarians who made certain objections to the Bill. So, Lubinda has no standing, he cannot amend the Bill because it is a private members’ Bill and not a government Bill.”

He observed that the biggest lacuna in the Zambian Constitution was the absence of enabling legislation to make the national Constitution fully operational as well as the lack of respect by those in government for what the Constitution stated.

“There are many articles within the Constitution, which cannot be implemented because there is no support or the enabling legislation. Lubinda, his Attorney General (Likando Kalaluka) have failed to make such legislation after the Constitution came in. This is a lacuna; you cannot have articles in the Constitution, which cannot be implemented because there is no enabling legislation. The second lacuna that I see is that the people in government have no respect for what our Constitution says. In the last three years, they have been contracting loans without the approval of Parliament. Although there is a specific clause in the Constitution, which says, ‘government shall not contract loans without the approval of Parliament’, this is a big lacuna,” he observed.

And Dr Sacika said that Zambia’s biggest challenge remained the deteriorating economy, which had afflicted the majority citizens, rather than the 2016 Amended Constitution.

“Generally speaking, the biggest challenge for Zambia, today, is not the Constitution, the biggest challenge is the breakdown of our economy and the deteriorating living standards of our people due to the poor economy, high poverty levels and the inability of the State to function efficiently because the government is broke! This is our biggest challenge. But Bill 10 is proposing to increase the number of parliamentarians. So, how will a government, which is failing to fund universities manage to carry this extra load? This is the biggest challenge we have, not Bill 10. Responsible Zambians should be thinking of how they can cut down the size of government; how they can reduce government expenditure; how they can revamp the country’s economy. This is what responsible Zambians should be thinking about, instead of coming up with schemes that are totally unproductive,” urged Dr Sacika.