ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu says there is too much tension in Zambia because President Edgar Lungu wants to manipulate the constitution so that he can run for a third term.
And Archbishop Mpundu has insisted that it is a shameless lie for government to claim that Zambians were widely consulted on Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019.
In an interview, Archbishop Mpundu said under the current Constitution, a sitting Republican President even being in office for one minute counted as a term.
“I think we could do a lot better, we are not doing well at all. And this corona thing is an addition to what is going on. All kinds of tension here and there, people don’t know where they are going and most of them don’t even know that they have a right to speak because they are afraid of being apprehended. And the economy is lounging, things could be far much better. The way things are now, it is not good because of one particular area, the Constitution is going to be changed whether we like it or not and that is not right. Why haven’t we learnt from the past when UNIP [changed] the Constitution to have a One-Party State? Then came the MMD; they didn’t do better, they came up with the Constitution, excluded some people from standing and so on. Then came another, who wanted to change the Constitution to have a third term, we don’t learn! And now, this one (President Lungu) wants to have the Constitution changed so that he can have a third term, you can’t say you were finishing somebody else’s term, no, you can’t! You served two terms. They don’t say, ‘how long’, just two terms even one hour, one minute is a term,” Archbishop Mpundu argued.
“But then also, to make sure that the President has powers to dismiss lawyers, oh God, protect us! He wants to push that through. We are going to dictatorship of emperors where there is only one person who counts, the rest of us are nothing! No wonder there is tension in the country. Some people may pretend that there is no tension, everything is alright, it is not!”
And he insisted that it was a shameless lie that government adequately consulted Zambians on the controversial Bill 10.
“When they say ‘it is good for the people’ which people are they taking to? It is a shameless lie! Did they go back to the people? The British left a proviso in the constitution and that proviso was National Assembly is not going to trickle with the constitution, it has to go to the people in a referendum. Now, you know what UNIP did in 1969? They said ‘we agreed with this proviso because we wanted independence, the British threatened that they will not give us independence if we didn’t agree to this and now the British are not there, are you not represented at ward level? At MP level? Yes. Now what do you want? They represent you so give them power.’ And that is how we lost that Referendum and from there we went down the drain, we had a dictatorship of just one party and they said it would be good for the people which people? It is a shame lie,” Archbishop Mpundu said.
“The advice I would give them is that; listen to the people you are leading. They are the ones who put you there, listen to their cries, listen to their voice because you are not there to serve yourselves, but to serve God’s people, all of us are children of God. And those that we elect to govern us, they are there to make sure we access the services that constitute good human living, there is a lot of poverty going on. But also, this despondency that they are powerless because those in power want to change the Constitution for no reason, listen to their poverty. It is terribly bad when you see that some people cannot even afford a meal a day. At Independence, Zambia was the richest country, including South Africa, who we were better than them, now we are at the bottom. What is going on? Please, do good governance and look after people. Make sure you have jobs for them, make sure they are happy and rejoicing in being Zambians because they are free to speak and they are not going to be arrested if they speak.”
He observed that the public media did not air out divergent views on Bill 10.
“People have not been asked and those who were able to speak said ‘don’t rush this thing, it is not right, it is disregarded.’ The public media does not even bring these voices out so how can they say ‘it is good for the people?’ Which people did they consult? Even in the National Assembly it failed to continue because one group said ‘no, it is not good for the people’,” said Archbishop Mpundu.