NOMINATED member of parliament Raphael Nakachinda says UPND members of parliament have continued to misinform their electorate with rhetoric and personal opinions on the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019, rather than facts.

In an interview, Nakachinda said he had toured several parts of the country and he had determined that UPND MPs had misinformed their electorate with partisan opinions on the Bill.

“Our society is now polarized. When you go in an area that is predominantly supported by UPND, you will find that they are skeptical about Bill 10 because what they have been fed are basically opinions of the UPND. But when you engage them and show them what the facts are, they change and say, ‘they didn’t know.’ Clearly, you can tell that they have been misled and that is not the job of a member of parliament,” Nakachinda said.

“Members of parliament are supposed to take facts and truths to their electorate, but having gone through Southern Province, Western Province, having been to North-Western Province and having been through Eastern Province and other parts of the country, I have come to the conclusion that the enemy of the people is not Bill 10; the enemy of the people is the misinformation that members of parliament have advanced purely for selfish partisan politics!”

He said talking about any perceived ills in Bill 10 was premature at the current stage.

“So, there are many things, which need to be achieved through Bill 10, but we have subjected ourselves to politicking at the expense of applying ourselves to the provisions. The UPND MPs, because we don’t have clear two-thirds majority in Parliament from one political party, they have the opportunity to bargain on behalf of the people, that when the Constitution is to be opened, only amendments that suit to what they believe are the aspirations for the people of Zambia would be allowed to go through because the Constitution provides that you open the Constitution at Second Reading with two-thirds majority,” he said.

“So, if there are amendments that people suspect could be under the sleeves of those in government, if they are presented and we confirm that these things that others feared are now happening, we just have to wait for the Third Reading where we need two-third majority to be able to tell the colleagues that we can’t go through with this Constitution. So, where is the fear? It does not make logical sense if you have an opportunity to open up the Constitution, see what amendments are being proposed and you also have an opportunity to propose amendments and again at the point of closing that session, you have the power, whether to pass the Constitution or not. Why not give each other a benefit of doubt and see who has ill intent? If the government has ill intent, it will be known. If there is any ill intent among ourselves, it will be known. Then, at closing the Constitution, you can determine whether it should go through or not. For now, it is premature.”

Nakachinda said valid arguments on Bill 10 could only be established when amendments made to the Bill were tested.

“We can only have valid arguments for and against Bill 10 after we have put to test the amendments that are being proposed. For now, all the amendments people are talking about are speculative. When they say, ‘the ruling party wants to increase the tenure of office,’ that is speculative, that is just politicking. When they say, ‘they want to bar HH,’ that is also politicking. What we’ll need is to go on the floor of the House, see the actual amendments that are being moved and then we can be able to determine whether, really, there is any ill intent on any part, either on the part of the opposition or, indeed, on the part of the ruling party,” Nakachinda argued.

He said UPND MPs that took a partisan stance on Bill 10 were betraying Zambians.

“Those MPs that have continued to take a partisan stance, basically, to patronize their political leader in this case, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, will be betraying the people of Zambia because the provisions and amendments as provided and proposed in Bill 10 are meant to cure some of the contradictions and lacunas in the Constitution that the Zambian people have been crying over. Of course, we have attempted to flood the population with political rhetoric and exchange of views with what seems to have been views of UPND and the PF. But the underlining silver line is that there has been a demand for constitutional reforms from the 2016 general election, which were highlighted; some of the grievances advanced by the UPND themselves,” said Nakachinda.

“Traditional leaders have cried too much because of Article 165, which similarly has taken away authority from paramount chiefs, the Litunga, which authority was helping to make sure that there was harmony in these chiefdoms. There is a proposal that, now, we have a clear representation of women, youths, the disabled reserved by way of Proportional Representation. We now have an opportunity to give power to amend the Constitution to give powers to the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to delimitate so that constituencies can be delimited to bring development closer to the people. We have constituencies in this country that are bigger than other countries.”

Members of parliament are due to resume sitting this Tuesday, June 9 and Bill 10 is expected to be re-introduced to the House.