MALAMBO PF member of parliament Makebi Zulu says it is impossible to lay out all the information in Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 regarding how it pronounces on mixed-member representation, among other benefits, but it will enhance Zambia’s democracy.
And Zulu says constitutional lawyer John Sangwa State Counsel is being mischievous by stating that President Edgar Lungu is a lame duck President and that he shouldn’t champion constitutional amendments.
Commenting on Sangwa’s remarks that those championing Bill 10 were not specific on how the proposed mixed-member system was meant to improve political representation for various groups, including women, Zulu argued that the proposal enhanced their interests by allowing for increased numbers in Parliament.
“Regards the mix-member representation, that one I think he is being mischievous because the idea of mix-member representation and the arguments that were advanced for mixed-member representation, encompass the issue of women representation, youth representation. In short, representation of the similarly marginalized groups or disadvantaged groups that is what was there. Today, the argument that says the youths want certain things to happen, the youths are, ‘we want freedom of expression,’ that is what the youths are saying. What better way to have a voice and people to speak in a place, such as Parliament, to advocate what they want. Let’s have them in Parliament so that they can advocate for what they want,” Zulu said in an interview.
“So, a mixed-member representation, obviously, you can’t have the Constitution lay out all the issues that are supposed to be there, it will become a Bible. It sets out the principle; he is a constitutional law lecturer, he should know that the Constitution is not supposed to be a bulk document; it sets out the principles and subsidiary legislation would prescribe in accordance with the Constitution, but certainly not going against the Constitution.”
And Zulu, who is also Eastern Province Minister, said Sangwa was being mischievous by stating that President Lungu was a lame duck President.
“The statements or debates of Sangwa are mischievous! When he says, ‘the President is a lame duck and that he doesn’t qualify to stand…’ You see, he is the one who was representing LAZ (Law Association of Zambia) in that matter and he lost the case. All the arguments that he has been issuing in public, he argued in court and he lost the case. The courts said in no uncertain terms ‘he is eligible to stand.’ I think he is being mischievous because President Lungu qualifies to stand and he will stand in 2021. There is nothing in the Constitution that will validate or invalidate the fact that he should be able to stand,” Zulu said.
“It appears to me his insistence probably is that they have some papers already prepared, which they intend to file immediately after nomination, and they are of the view that if amendments go through, they will not be able to do that. That is not how we practice our law, we do not do that. Let him sit down with his client; explain to his client properly what that judgement was. If he doesn’t really understand it himself, as he appears not to, he may consult fellow lawyers who may be kind enough to explain to him because every lawyer has understood it except him. What makes him that special even the judges have explained it? It is only prudent that he swallows the bitter pill and acknowledges what it is.”
Zulu also said the gazetting of Bill 10 did not mean a reintroduction of a new Bill in Parliament, but an indication that government wanted to build trust by showing citizens that it had incorporated the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee.
“He has been inconsistent throughout this debate as regards to Bill 10. The gazetting of the amendments are intended to build trust because we have been saying that we have listened to the recommendations of the Committee and we intend to move with the recommendations of the Committee. The outcry has been that, ‘we don’t trust you,’ and we decide to say, ‘okay, listen, let us publicize this,’ we could have as well put in News Diggers! We could have put it in the Daily Nation, we could have put in the Daily Mail, we could have put in the Times of Zambia… But we put in the Gazette as one of the options not as a way of reintroduction of the Bill, otherwise, it wouldn’t be known as Bill 10 because the ones that gave the numbers as regards to Bills, it is the National Assembly. So, that just is simply to notify the public to say, ‘hold us by this,’ we have heard and these are the amendments we intend to move,” said Zulu.
“So, those are the amendments we intend to move not in terms of reintroduction of the Bill, that is not the case. He is preying on the gullibility of some people. It is not confusing at all, it is not three documents; it is for that reason that I am saying he is becoming mischievous! He knows exactly what is going on and the public out there are not dumb; they are able to see through things; they are those who are gullible and those who have been able to pick up a position and don’t intend to shift from their position will listen to him. But those that dare to read and those that understand the process and look at it as mere rhetoric. He has simply become a politician now and it is not from a legal perspective as it was. If he was being objective from a legal point of view, he would have explained the way I have explained.”
On Tuesday, Sangwa said that as a lame duck President, Edgar Lungu must focus on consolidating his gains rather than pushing for constitutional amendments.
He said President Lungu’s term was almost coming to an end and because he was not eligible to re-contest, his agenda in trying to amend the Constitution could not be trusted.