PF CHAIRMAN for legal affairs Brian Mundubile says the ruling party is confident that the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 will pass Second Reading this Thursday because they have dealt with the contentious clauses.

In an interview, Mundubile said PF remained confident that the Bill would still pass Second Reading.

“We are very confident that it will go through because it is a good Bill. The numbers are there. Stakeholders, especially our friends in the opposition, they had raised issues to do with deputy ministers, coalition government and so on, so what Ministry of Justice did was to wait for the Committee to sit, and coincidentally, the issues that the opposition were raising are the same issues most of the stakeholders raised during the Committee sittings. So, what the Ministry of Justice did was just to accept the Committee recommendations, which predominantly dealt with all the contentious issues. So, the opposition had given a condition that they can’t support the Bill because of some of the clauses, so the moment we removed them, we didn’t see any reason why they should continue not supporting it,” Mundubile said.

“Then they raised an issue of trust, they said, ‘we are happy with the clean-up, but how do we know you won’t change mid-way?’ So, again, the Ministry of Justice went out of their way to even gazette the amendment, something unusual, but it was done as an assurance. To show them that we will not change, we are gazetting these amendments. And the Minister of Justice (Given Lubinda), in his policy statement on Bill 10, did something unusual in that he now pronounced the substantive amendment…you know why? Because we needed to give assurances to our colleagues in the opposition. So, that should give us confidence because all the contentious issues have been dealt with.”

He stressed that Bill 10 would resolve youth and women-related problems.

“We know that our friends in the opposition are dealing with the same Zambian people that we are also dealing with: the women, youths, the disabled, the traditional leaders, and Bill 10 will resolve problems for the youth participating in governance issues, the disabled. It also resolves the wrangles in the chiefdoms. So, from that standpoint, the brave women and men in the opposition will stand up to do what is right, and that is to support Bill 10,” he said.

And Mundubile insisted that the shifting of dates of tabling Bill 10 was due to “circumstances.

“When a Bill is presented for First Reading, Mr Speaker refers it to the Committee. So, for this particular Bill, the sitting took unusually long because we wanted to make sure that as many stakeholders as possible participated. When the Bill traverses two sessions you have to, first of all, move a motion to restore it on the Order Paper. It was started in another Parliament in August so when it came up in December, first of all, before we could debate it, a motion had to be moved for it to be restored on the Order Paper because it was crossing between sessions. The next time that it came, Parliament closed because of COVID-19. So, we haven’t been shifting the dates, it has been the circumstances,” Mundubile said.

He also said that there was nothing illegal about publishing Bill 10 amendments.

“Don’t mistake gazetting a Bill to gazetting amendments. A gazette is just a publication through which the government informs people of its decision. So, what is illegal about publishing the amendment that Cabinet agreed to? So, there was nothing illegal. Those that had contested this thought that the Bill was re-gazetted, there was no Bill that was gazetted, what was gazetted were the amendments what were agreed to. And remember, it was not the decision of the Justice Minister alone, Cabinet sat and looked at the recommendations from the Committee. So, once Cabinet agreed to those recommendations that were proposed by the stakeholders, those are the ones Honourable Lubinda went and published,” said Mundubile.

“So, there was nothing illegal about gazetting the amendments. The long story on Bill 10 will be done, then, we can begin to look at other topics. I think even for you, as a journalist, this has been going on for some time and, obviously, it must come to an end so that we start something else.”