TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ) says both the UPND and Independent members of parliament with evidence of bribes advanced by the PF over the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 should report to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to expose any alleged crime.
And TIZ says the bribing allegations are disturbing because some MPs see nothing wrong with using corruption to persuade support for Bill 10.
Last week, the UPND said it was considering reporting some Ministers to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for attempted bribery to influence voting on Bill 10 in Parliament.
This was after an attempt to debate the controversial Bill flopped amidst an abrupt adjournment last Wednesday, on heightened speculation that the PF failed to secure the required numbers to push Bill 10 to Third Reading.
Responding to a press query, TIZ chapter president Rueben Lifuka urged the UPND and Independent members of parliament to report the alleged bribery attempts to the ACC to expose the crimes.
He observed that there was a loss of accountability by MPs to their constituents on Bill 10, hence such selfish actions of bribery were possible.
“TIZ has received the news of the allegations of bribery made by the United Party for National Development in the context of the recent Bill 10 debate in the National Assembly, with sadness and this should be a matter of serious concern to all Zambians. If, indeed, Patriotic Front members did make attempts to offer or promise any gratification to UPND members of parliament, as well as Independent MPs to induce them to vote in favour of Bill 10, then this whole constitutional reform process is jaundiced and cannot be considered to be credible. The Anti-Corruption Act No 3 of 2012 is very clear on corrupt practices, such as the ones alleged to have taken place in the context of Bill 10,” Lifuka stated.
“It is our demand, therefore, that all allegations are reported without failure to the Anti-Corruption Commission for thorough investigations. We want to call upon the UPND MPs and Independent MPs, who have evidence of the offers, and promises of gratification made by the Patriotic Front, to urgently report these matters to the ACC. UPND MPs and all relevant stakeholders should be reminded that they are duty-bound to report such cases and it is not optional for them to decide whether or not to report. We can only rid our society and our politics of corruption, if all cases are treated with the seriousness that these deserve.”
He added that Zambia’s sovereignty should not be cheapened by having a Constitution which was tainted by corruption in its formulation process.
“Constitutional reform is an important national endeavour, which should not be predicated on bribery or any other underhand tactics. A constitution should be a product of consensus, an embodiment of the people’s desires and not an outcome laced with selfish motives by those who are willing to sacrifice principles over profits. A constitution is not a legacy of a few, but the people’s legacy and should be treated with reverence by all stakeholders. We cannot cheapen the sovereignty of this nation by having a constitution, which is tainted by corruption in its formulation process,” Lifuka explained.
“What we find disturbing by these allegations is that there is a possibility of having MPs in the House, who see nothing wrong in using bribery and corruption to woo support for Bill 10 and, similarly, there are also some MPs, who are willing bribe-takers, even if this decision betrays the interests of the people they serve. What has become evident over the years is that the National Assembly has largely become the playground of partisan interests – we see time and time again how the people’s representatives prefer to serve their political party interests rather than the interests of the people that sent them to the House. There is definitely a loss of accountability by the MPs to their constituents on this issue of Bill 10, and, hence such selfish actions of bribery are possible.”
He bemoaned that Zambian politics was sliding down towards a dangerous level where money would be the driving factor to important decisions.
“We will await the complaints to be filed with ACC and we will actively follow up on this matter. Further, as TI Zambia, we will continue to raise public awareness on the dangers of money in politics. Zambian politics are headed towards a dangerous level where money will be the driving factor of many important decisions as well as events and we stand to lose the limited democratic gains made over the years if this trend continues unabated. Soon, it will no longer matter the quality of a candidate standing for election, but how much money such a candidate is able to splash in form of bribes and all manner of appeasements to would-be voters. The dangers of corruption are lurking in the people’s assembly and if this is proved to be true, it will be a great betrayal of the people, who have opted to exercise their vested sovereign authority through elected representatives,” Lifuka cautioned.
And he called on the PF to undertake its own investigations in the matter.
“In the meantime, we call upon the PF to equally undertake its own investigations into these allegations, which do not cover the party in glory. The PF should distance itself from all those, who are alleged to have been involved in such corrupt activities, unless, of course, these were party-sanctioned activities. The PF has reassured the Zambian people on several occasions that it will allow its MPs to vote with their conscience. It is our expectation, therefore, that the PF will equally allow opposition MPs to vote with conscience, which may include them walking out of the House. Winning support for different positions on Bill 10 should not be reduced to acts of illegality – it is possible for either side to woo support without resorting to any illegal or underhand tactics,” stated Lifuka.
“What is important for the party in power is to evaluate why sections of the population still lack confidence in Bill 10 and, thus, find legal means to inform and consult the people on Bill 10.”