JUSTICE Minister Given Lubinda says even in his deepest sleep, he is convinced that President Edgar Lungu will retain the Presidency in 2021.
And Lubinda says the publication of Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 was made to win public trust about how sincere government has been about the constitution-making process.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says he is not bothered that the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) does not trust government’s position on Bill 10, saying he does not expect ‘the Romans’ to trust him when they did not even trust Jesus.
Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Lubinda said Bill 10 wasn’t a matter of life and death for PF as President Lungu was assured 2021 victory.
“Bill 10, for us in the PF, is not a matter of life and death; this, for us, is something we are taking as a matter that is in the interest of the Zambian people. The issue of winning elections in 2021, if you were to ask me, even in my deepest of sleep, I will tell you that President Edgar Lungu shall retain his office in 2021. And for the sake of those who are drafting the petition of the Presidential elections in 2021, let us amend this Constitution so that they can have 30 days to do that,” Lubinda said.
And Lubinda said he had to do unprecedented things just to make people see how sincere government had been about Bill 10.
“This is not the way to amend the Constitution, it is very unprecedented! But because we are living in very unprecedented times, we had to do this. We have parliamentarians who, when you say, ‘this is your Bill, can you come and debate?’ They say, ‘no, we shall not debate it because these people will not move the amendments.’ I did something very unprecedented and the reason I did that was because the people who are supposed to go and debate this Bill went outside [Parliament] and said, ‘we want the Minister to withdraw the Bill and then get the Committee report and merge them and present another Bill.’ It is totally wrong! I cannot with withdraw a Bill and incorporate it with the Report of the Committee and report it in the same session, I can’t! Standing orders are very clear; the process is that if I was to withdraw Bill 10, I would have to re-do all the consultations yet again because whatever I will put in there will be new,” Lubinda said.
“But that is a very dangerous route to take. If we have spent over three years on this process already, should we stop and throw it away simply because two or three organisations have said, ‘we were not consulted?’ Should we cost this country any more time simply because some people doubt the sincerity of others? So, because they were saying, ‘we don’t trust government’, I did something unprecedented. But even after I did that, they continued to say, ‘he will not move them’, so I have published my intentions, which are informed by the Report of the Committee and what the Zambians have been saying. What I gazetted are views that have enjoyed public popularity, amendments, which the opposition are dancing about, they are very excited about them [saying] ‘we agree with these amendments, we want these amendments’ and I have said, ‘yes, because you don’t seem to trust even yourselves, I am going to show you how serious I am by getting all these Bills that you like and put them in my Bill and make it public so that everybody can see that I am very sincere about what I am doing’.”
Asked if publishing the Bill in a gazette had been able to help government win public trust, Lubinda said government was not in control of people’s reactions.
“That’s what I was hoping for. But I cannot be faulted for not trying; I must be commended for trying. Don’t fault me for trying, that’s wrong. I am not in control of people’s reactions. Government is not in control [of people’s reactions], we can only do that which is within our means. You can take a horse to the water, but for goodness sake, you cannot force it to drink water,” he replied.
Meanwhile, Lubinda said government was not bothered that ZCCB did not trust its position on Bill 10.
“Sometimes, when you listen to such debates, you just resign yourself to say nafishupafye takwaba kuwamya (we cannot just agree and we can’t please everyone). But I cannot give up because I know that what I am doing is right, I have been transparent. So, in this case, are you telling me it is okay for a college of 12 Catholic Bishops to speak on behalf of the two million, who are Catholic, but it is not okay for an elected government to speak for 17 million Zambians? Is that fair? Those who saying, ‘withdraw the Bill’ must please show us the reasons why we must withdraw! If it is about those contentious issues, they have been addressed. So, it doesn’t worry me that people still don’t trust me because even the Romans didn’t trust Christ. So, if they didn’t trust Christ, who am I?” asked Lubinda.
“So, some of those people, who are saying, ‘we don’t have trust’ they will say anything. Some of them, even when the Bill is passed in Parliament and the Constitution is to be assented to by the President, they will say, we don’t trust that they will implement it. So, those are skeptics meant to just be skeptics, and I don’t think skeptics must be allowed to derail the process.”