WHAT happened in Parliament last Thursday showed that the Patriotic Front went fishing on this Bill. They were banking on a gambled probability of success, but everyone knows that gambling doesn’t guarantee you anything. That’s why it’s called gambling. It’s a game for people who have little or no hope of achieving their goals on a clean slate. One would have thought that the Patriotic Front had everything planned and worked out, one would have thought that when they were boasting about having the numbers, they knew what they were talking about. As it came to pass, they were just hallucinating.
We are glad the Patriotic Front has failed to mutilate the Constitution as they wished and to skew it towards their interests. The UPND and other opposition, as well as some Independent members of parliament, must be applauded for putting up a spirited fight. Changing the Constitution must not be something that the party in power can simply do out of boredom. The 2016 Constitution was a by-product of wide consultations it was born out of a marriage with the UPND. But suddenly, the PF now felt they could just undo what they did with their colleagues in the opposition.
What we saw in the pursuit of Bill 10 was very strange. The very fact that the contents of this Bill 10 were being protected and defended by only those who are beneficiaries the the PF government was an indication that something was fishy. Even those who never read the contents of Bill 10 had reason to worry because of the manner in which the ruling party dragged its agenda. The desperation was too much and it sent a message that this was not about Zambians. That was a sign that Bill 10 was a collection of bad laws.
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 PF should have engaged their colleagues in the opposition and asking them to reach a compromise. The UPND would have shared their views and made considerations for what they could tolerate. If the PF had engaged the opposition in a progressive manner with the aim of serving the people’s interest, Bill 10 would have been cleaned up and the progressive provisions, agreed by both political groupings, would have passed. But the PF wanted everything, they went in with the “winner takes all attitude”, and as everyone can see, it has taken them nowhere. Governing in a democracy is about compromise.
This is a great day for Zambia. This is democracy at its best. This is how a proper, functioning democracy must work. Leadership is about humility, not arrogance. You get into government to serve the people and not to serve yourself. Leaders must learn to listen to the voice of those who are not walking with them in the corridors of power.
The PF and Minister of Justice is saying Zambians have missed an opportunity to have a people driven Constitution; which people? The people have rejected the Bill, and therefore it is the PF that has lost an opportunity to manipulate a people driven constitution. This Bill 10 process has been unnecessarily prolonged. We have wasted a lot of resources as a country on a worthless undertaking which could have been avoided if those in leadership cared to listen to advice from well-meaning Zambians.
Indeed, this is a victory for democracy and it’s a victory for rule of law. This is how a multiparty system is supposed to work. We can look back now and see what will happen to the lies they told the people about Bill 10.
There are many lessons for the PF in this defeat. You cannot force matters, you can’t embark on a journey without a clear plan on how you plan to get to your destination. Changing the Constitution is about what the people want, it’s not about arrogance. It’s not about who is speaking the loudest. Never go out to hunt something that you cannot kill. Don’t start a war you cannot win. Anyway, sh*t happens! Learn and move on!