Whenever the enactment of a bill, any bill, is supported only by those who are in government, the ruling party and its agents, just know that that there is something critically wrong with that law. If all those who are outside government and don’t support the ruling party refuse to support the enactment of a bill, any bill, then you must know that there is a huge problem with that law. Laws are supposed to be all inclusive, they are not supposed to be partisan. The moment a law is crafted to benefit one party; the moment one group of citizens is excited about a drafted law while the other is sad, that becomes a bad law.
An example of a good law is one which says “no citizen shall be deprived of his freedom to move freely throughout Zambia, or the freedom to assemble freely and associate with other persons”. Who can object to a law such as this one? Every citizen of this country is a beneficiary of this law and no one can be allowed to tamper with it because it is a good law. It doesn’t favour the party in power or those in opposition.
The reason why the Bible is the most read book in the whole world is simply because it contains nothing but good laws. You don’t need to be a Christian to like what the Bible says. Who can disagree with a book that says “though shall not kill?” We don’t think anyone can because this message is good for everyone, regardless of one’s religious affiliation or standing in society. The commandments in the Bible are a good example of how good laws are supposed to be framed.
But what we have seen in the pursuit of Bill 10 is very strange. The very fact that the contents of this Bill 10 are being protected and defended by only those who are in government, in PF or are beneficiaries of the PF government is bad sign. Even those who have not read the contents of Bill 10 have reason to worry because of the manner in which the ruling party has dragged this agenda. The desperation is too much and it sends a message that this is not about Zambians. This is a sign that Bill 10 is a collection of bad laws.
Why are we saying this? We can line up every single person in Zambia and abroad today who wants Bill 10 to be enacted and we can point at their connection to the Patriotic Front. Every single person who has supported the enactment of this Bill 10 is a beneficiary of the PF government, one way or another; including those opposition MPs who defied their party positions. Those who made the loudest noise supporting Bill 10 are the top beneficiaries of the Patriotic Front government, while those who spoke less have very little to lose. Like we said, this is a sign of a bad law because a good law unites all citizens, it benefits everyone, regardless of their political affiliation.
What happened in Parliament this week says everything that people need to know about this Bill. The Patriotic Front desperately wanted this Bill to be enacted, but they did not have the numbers. They tried to get as many independent MPs as they could, but they still failed to make two thirds majority. So they resorted to money; buying members of parliament from the opposition. This is a shame! If Bill 10 contained good laws which stand to benefit every citizen, the PF didn’t need to beg or bribe opposition law makers. You don’t need to bribe someone with money in coercing them to vote for something good.
Members of parliament are not toddlers whom you have to force to eat something they don’t want. If the people of Zambia have rejected a bill, please leave it. Bill 10 has been rejected, drop it. Surely, PF tried to pass this law last year, they failed to find the numbers and they deferred it. Again this week, they failed to find the numbers and used another excuse to buy time. Time which they desperately need to buy votes in the House. What a shame! In Nsenga they say “chikakanga chakanga pala iliye mankhwala”. All these manoeuvres and delaying tactics are only a confirmation that the proposed amendments are designed to benefit the party in power, not the ordinary citizen.
And we must use this opportunity to thank those MPs who refused to be bought; MPs who turned away huge volumes of money and opted to stand with the majority Zambians. We know the temptations are very high and money is everything in this hard economy. Therefore, what you did in Parliament is a noble thing. You should be proud that so far, you have succeeded to push this Bill further down its corner of defeat. You the brave MPs, and other civil society activists who campaigned against this Bill will soon be hoisted as heroes of this land.