THE Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) has instructed all its members of parliament to vote for the deferment of the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10, 2019 whenever it is re-introduced into Parliament for Second Reading.
But nominated member of parliament Raphael Nakacinda says it is dictatorial for the former ruling party to impose a position on its members of parliament when they have not had time to consult one another before reaching a consensus.
In an interview with News Diggers!, MMD national secretary Elizabeth Chitika said it was the party’s position that Bill 10 was not the most important thing for the country at the moment, and that it had since made a decision to have its MPs vote for the deferment of the Bill whenever it was presented for Second Reading.
“As regards the members of parliament, the party position is that the Bill 10 issue is not a priority at the moment. Right now, the country is going through a lot of problems and challenges, which need to be resolved. It’s not like if we do not deal with Bill 10, then the country is going to be on fire, no. So, our position as MMD is that Bill 10 should be deferred; it is divisive, it has divided the nation and we need to defer it until we are all agreed [as to] what needs to be done. This is the position we have also given to our members of parliament. So, right now, because they adjourned Parliament, we will wait to see how our MPs are going to vote, but the instruction given to them is that our position is very clear: we are not going to vote for Bill 10 now because the party feels it should be deferred. And all our members of parliament have been told,” said Chitika.
But in a separate interview, Nakacinda said there was no agreement between the party and its members as to what position they needed to take regarding voting on Bill 10.
“There is no such agreement; those are just wild statements that are being made by people, who have chosen to politick with everything. The Constitution is a document of conscience and each individual member of parliament’s first and foremost allegiance is to the people of Zambia and the people who voted for that member of parliament in specific constituencies. To that effect, members of parliament are expected to go into Parliament, not to go and advance partisan positions, but to advance the position of the Zambian people and the electorate. So, if the people of Mkaika have mandated their member of parliament to support Bill 10 because it has progressive provisions of, for example, institutionalizing the Chieftains of the Paramount Chief Gawa Undi, I do not see Peter Phiri going against the mandate of the people of Mkaika,” Nakacinda said.
“I do not see the member of parliament for Serenje and member of parliament for Muchinga going against progressive provisions that would want to increase the number of women in Parliament through the Mixed Member Proportional Representation (electoral system) and having the youths, the disabled represented in Parliament. I think members of parliament will be going to the National Assembly to protect the interest of the Zambian people.”
He argued that it would be a betrayal for members of parliament to go against the will of the people in preference of a party position.
“Most of the things that are in Bill 10 are exactly what the Zambian people have been speaking to for the past 30 to 40 years in terms of how they want to be governed. So, I think it will be a betrayal to the Zambian people if we fail to undertake constitutional reforms that are as progressive as proposed in Bill 10. And in this case when we are talking about Bill 10, we are talking about Bill 10 in relation to the recommendation of the Select Committee that I was privileged to chair and also the fact that the Ministry of Justice has since agreed to carry forward our recommendations and reduce them into amendments to Bill 10, which will reflect the will of the people. So, I think those who are making commentaries like Dr (Nevers) Mumba and others are just playing to the gallery because he knows that nothing will change! The members of parliament will go on the floor of the House to do that which they believe is the best thing,” Nakacinda said.
Asked if he was going to defy the party’s position in this case, he insisted that there was no party position regarding Bill 10 because the MMD had never gathered its MPs to agree yet.
“That is Nevers Mumba’s position as an individual, that is not the party position. Party positions are made collectively, they are not made by individuals. They are promoting dictatorship if they are going to be getting individual positions to make them party positions. If Dr Mumba wanted to arrive at a party position, he should have had a consultative forum, maybe a policy conference or in this case a convention and let the members speak to those issues. But to have an individual at his home making statements based on how he has woken up, I think that is undemocratic. So, there is no position being defied because there has never been any party position on Bill 10,” said Nakacinda.