LEADER of the Opposition in Parliament Jack Mwiimbu says the PF is delaying to table Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019 for second reading because they are still looking for numbers.

Meanwhile, Clerk of the National Assembly Cecilia Mbewe has guided members of parliament to be physically present when Bill 10 is tabled in order to facilitate voting.

On Wednesday, government postponed the date for second reading October 29 from October 16, 2020.

During business on Wednesday, Mwiimbu rose on a point of order questioning when Bill 10 would be tabled in Parliament after a circular was given to MPs informing them that bill would only be tabled on October 29.

“Madam Speaker, I rise on a very serious procedural point of order. And this particular procedural point of order is on Her Honour the Vice-President. Madam Speaker, you do recall that last Friday when she was presenting the schedule of work for this week, she did particularly inform us and the nation that Bill 10 will be coming on the order paper on Friday this week. A few minutes ago, Madam Speaker, we received a circular rescinding the decision of Her Honour the Vice-President which was given on the floor of this House. The circular is telling us that Bill 10 is coming on the 29th of October,” Mwiimbu said.

“Madam Speaker, I need clarity on this matter, so that we can lay the anxiety on the part of the members of this House and members of the public. Because it was announced that Bill 10 is coming on Friday and we have been waiting for it and we are ready. Now we have received a circular, Madam Speaker, that this particular bill is coming on the 29th of October. As you have guided, members of parliament are supposed to, if they want, to debate virtually in their constituency. So we want to know and seek your guidance as to whether it is coming on Friday so that those members in the constituency can remain in the constituency doing other national duties and attend to Parliamentary duties. We need your guidance on this matter. Is it coming this Friday, next week or the other week? So that there is clarity.”

In her response, First Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Catherine Namugala said the Executive, who were the promoters of the bill, were in order to shift the date.

“My guidance is as follows, as you have indicated honourable leader of the opposition, Her Honour did indeed last week give an indication that there would be a bill, the one you referred to, that would come during the course of business this week. This, as you will note honourable members, was an indication by Her Honour the Vice-President was a mere indication. This particular bill that you are referring to is being promoted by the Executive and the Executive, just like any other promoter, is at liberty to change their minds if they are not ready to present their bill as indicated. What Her Honour the Vice-President gave last week Friday was a mere indication and there is nothing out of order that the Executive has done. That is my guidance. When they are ready I am sure they will present that bill for second reading,” said Namugala.

And in an interview, Mwiimbu said PF was still looking for numbers.

“The PF are looking for numbers. Definitely, they are looking for numbers as far as we are concerned and they don’t have the numbers currently. They have been frantically trying to convince our traditional leaders, to influence our MPs to vote for Bill 10 if development is to take place in their constituencies. That has been going on for quite some time but we are proud that our honourable members of parliament have resolved to stand on the side of the people and they would not be compromised in any way. I have no doubt in my mind that they will be vigorous on this bill. This is a vicious regime that will try to use all means to ensure that whatever their aspirations are, are achieved,” said Mwiimbu.

Meanwhile, Mbewe advised members of parliament to be physically present when Bill 10 is presented to facilitate voting.

“The Clerk of the National Assembly wishes to inform all Members of Parliament, the media and members of the public that the House will consider the Second Reading stage of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, National Assembly Bill No. 10 of 2019 on Thursday, 29th October, 2020. While members of parliament are free to debate on the Bill from any suitable location with good internet connectivity, it will be advisable for members to be physically present at the main Parliament Buildings to facilitate voting. Members of the public are advised to follow the proceedings on Parliament television, radio or Facebook. Please treat this as official notification and should there be any changes, my office will advise accordingly,” stated Mbewe.