THE opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) claim to be in possession of evidence showing how the Patriotic Front tried to bribe the party’s members of parliament to vote for the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019. They say this evidence which is in their possession in form of text messages and voice recordings proves that the ruling party offered bribes to opposition law makers to go against their will in the legislation process.

“We are consulting the legal team of the UPND as members of parliament to consider reporting some ministers to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for attempting to bribe members of parliament of the UPND to vote for Bill 10. And we do have recordings, we were recording them as they were negotiating with us. We have messages which they can’t delete, where they were promising ‘let’s go we pick a brand new VX at Toyota Zambia and a bunch of money’. They were moving shamelessly with sacks of money at the precincts of Parliament, shame on them! And we challenge them to refute whether what we are saying is not true, they are liars! Stop deceiving the nation, the nation is hurting. They can rest be assured, we will not change our resolve. Zambians want a change of government and it’s coming in 2021,” said Choma member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa.

This is a great development! It is good that the UPND was clever enough and they managed to gather this evidence to show the whole country that the ruling party is not operating on principle regarding this Constitution Amendment Bill. It is not about what the individual parliamentarians want, but what those in government would like to achieve from this. That’s why they are willing to spend colossal amounts of money on bribing lawmakers.

But we are concerned that the UPND is moving very slowly on this, if they are moving at all. The UPND whistle-blower says the party is CONSIDERING reporting some ministers to the Anti-Corruption Commission; we feel it shouldn’t be a matter of considering, this evidence needs to be shown to the people of Zambia even more than to the Anti Corruption Commission. In fact, UPND can even forget about ACC in this case. It’s common knowledge that the Anti-Corruption Commission takes years before it can establish a case against offenders, worse if the said offender is a minister. By then, Bill 10 would have already been decided upon.

President Edgar Lungu has been challenging those who accuse him or his government of corruption to adduce evidence to substantiate their claims. Here is the UPND bragging to be in possession of this crucial evidence which the people of Zambia have been yearning for. If this evidence truly exists, it will help the rest of the MPs to see what the Patriotic Front’s real intention is on this Bill. It will help the citizens of this country to make informed decisions. This evidence should not be allowed to disappear in thin air like the purported evidence in the presidential election petition of 2016, which has never seen the light of day to this very day.

It is in the best interest of the UPND that those who were involved in offering of bribes to opposition members of parliament are named and shamed. If the UPND is genuinely fighting against this Bill, this is a milestone achievement towards exposing the ill-intention of President Lungu’s agenda ahead of 2021.

And talking about 2021, we must say that it seems there are some officials within the UPND who feel Bill 10 may interfere with President Lungu’s candidacy next year. These people have not actively participated in the debate for the incumbent’s eligibility because they are certain that this particular president would be a better and weaker candidate to defeat in 2021. So they are not very eager on pushing PF to exercise internal democracy. They want Lungu to stand.

But this is not how politics should be done; leaders are not supposed to defend or challenge laws on the basis of how they benefit their personal interests. Good leaders stand for what is good and right, regardless of how it affects them. If PF is breaking the law, and in the process giving an advantage to the opposition, that is not a basis for those in opposition to support the breakdown of law and order.

And we wonder why some of these UPND supporters are worried about the Patriotic Front choosing a stronger candidate because president Hakainde Hichilema has made it very clear that he is ready for any PF candidate who may be fielded in 2021. We don’t believe that Mr Hichilema is scared of facing anyone else in PF because, according to him, the people of Zambia want regime change, a complete overhaul of national leadership, not a Lungu with a new face. So we don’t understand the discomfort from some party officials.

We want the opposition to demonstrate to the voters that they will protect and defend the Constitution and uphold the rule of law. They must demonstrate that nothing and no one will be above the law; that crimes will not be swept under the carpet if they implicate or disadvantage the ruling party and its members.

This bribery evidence that Honourable Mweetwa was talking about can be handed to law enforcement agencies, there is no harm. But it should more importantly be made available to the media. We all know that in this country, investigations that are kept away from the press usually die a natural death, especially if they involve those in governing positions. So we, in the media, would like to pass on that evidence to readers, listeners and viewers so that citizens can make their own judgements.

Ba UPND, Osasunga evidence monga reg, give us!