ASSOCIATION of Catholic Parliamentarians chairperson Professor Nkandu Luo says Catholic bishops should provide the correct leadership which it has been known for and avoid misinforming the people about Bill 10.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Given Lubinda says the amendment process has been all-inclusive as it even gave an opportunity for people in taverns to voice themselves out.

Speaking at a press briefing attended by PF MPs who are also association members at Government Complex, Tuesday, Prof Luo disagreed with the Catholic Bishops’ argument that Bill 10 contains retrogressive and highly contentious clauses.

“The Catholic bishops would agree with us that the process of reviewing the constitution was legitimate as it was widely inclusive, transparent, and anchored on conscious building. Further, we disagree with the statement that the process undertaken to review the constitution lacked genuine consensus and that it has become a source of division in the country. On the contrary, when the Ministry of Justice called for submissions on identified lacunas and inconsistencies, the ministry received an overwhelming number of submissions from faith-based organizations, civil society organizations, members of parliament, individuals, agencies, and various political parties. This demonstrated consensus,” Prof Luo said.

She appealed to all parliamentarians to fully support the Bill.

“I want to appeal to the Catholic Bishops, to the conscious of all members of parliament across the political divide to support this bill but most importantly, to go and read so that you make an informed decision. Let us not listen to statements, let us not listen to debates on the streets but go and collect the gazette of Bill 10 and read so that when you decide, you are making an informed decision,” Luo said.

“If we decide that we want to divide this country because of misinformation, that will be a pity. For the first time n a constitution in Zambia, there is a call for equity where we are calling for a 50-50 representation in parliament of women and men, for the first time we are talking about people living with disabilities being part of governance of this country, we are calling for the young people to be part of governance of this country. How else can anybody clap their hands for a government that means well for its people?”

Luo appealed to the Catholic Bishops to provide the correct leadership by giving correct information about Bill 10.

“I want to appeal to our Catholic Bishops to provide the correct leadership of our flock and give them the correct information and continue enjoying the glory that the catholic church has enjoyed not only in Zambia but the world. You may recall that last week, there was a statement in the media regarding Bill 10 and this statement was given on behalf of the catholic bishops by Bishop Lungu. It has become imperative for us to put things straight and also to correct some of the statements that we feel as practicing catholic in parliament may want to give the correct position,” she said.

She said the catholic members, just like other stakeholders, were invited to participate in the constitution amendment process but decided not to.

“The Catholics stated that there is a manipulation of Bill 10 exhibited by some people who have taken it upon themselves to popularise it. This statement is not true because no one has taken it upon themselves to popularise Bill 10. The esteemed bishops have further stated that the Bill contains retrogressive and highly contentious clauses. What is in Bill 10 is as follows and this is in the gazette and it’s up to you members to make a comparative analysis between what I am saying and what was stated in this statement. This Bill retains the qualifications for election of parliament while allowing for a delimitation by the electoral commission of Zambia. So, we will continue with the magisterium system of electing the president using the 50%+1; That the public officers who seek election for office to resign at six months prior to the election period as opposed to the two years that was recommended much earlier by the forum; and four, retention of employees on payroll until the employee benefits are paid in full, and retain the functions of the Bank of Zambia in the Constitution,” Prof Luo said.

Prof Luo lamented that the Catholic church mother body blocked her association from holding their meeting at Kapingila House, which is the church secretariat.

“This particular meeting that we have, in our conscious we thought since we are members of the catholic church, the best place for us to do this was Kapingila House which is our facility as Catholics. And even the construction to that facility, we were part to because we know how we work as a church but, and I went to put this in writing to request that we go to Kapingila House. But I received a letter that we are not allowed to even have this particular press conference at Kapingila House. We were not even allowed to take this stance,” said Prof Luo.

And Lubinda insisted that the formulation of Bill 10 was all inclusive.

“The consultations even extended to us listening to people who were speaking in forums that are not meant for discussing matters like this. We listened to people that made comments through newspapers, we listened to people that made contributions through radio programmes, we even listened to people that made contributions in taverns in the spirit of not leaving anyone behind,” said Lubinda.

Other parliamentarians who attended the briefing were Bwacha member of parliament Sydney Mushanga, Mandevu member of parliament Jean Kapata, Sylvia Chalikosa, Charles Banda, Nathaniel Mubukwanu, Dr Bwalya Ngandu (treasurer), Stephen Kampyongo, and David Mabumba among others.