We shall not tire in opposing Bill 10 – CiSCA

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CIVIL Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) says it shall not be exhausted or fatigued in demanding for a complete withdrawal of Bill 10 from parliament.

CiSCA says it wants “a proper people-driven constitutional making process.”

At a press conference in Lusaka on Thursday, CiSCA deputy chairperson Judith Mulenga said Bill 10 had failed to garner the support of Zambians despite being sold as a great piece of legislation by its sponsors.

“We must make it very clear from the onset that the timing, content and process of enacting Bill number 10 of 2019 has been and continues to fall short of the basic tenets and principles of constitution making,” Mulenga pointed out.

“This is because, truth be told, Bill 10 is a poisoned chalice aiming to maim our hard-won democracy. No amount of spinning, manipulation and cosmetic amendments in the name of re-gazetting or indeed whatever name or form they take would make Bill 10 any better,” Mulenga added.

She said justice minister Given Lubinda’s to make changes to Bill 10 in order to build confidence and align it with the report of the select committee which was put in place Speaker to receive petitions from the public and make recommendation to the house was not only an illegality, but also an attempt to usurp the powers of Parliament.

“Further, we wish to put it on record that the effort to amend Bill 10 by way of re-gazetting it has only exposed and reinforced the perception that Justice Minister Lubinda and the PF regime do not mean well at all,” she said.

She said if Lubinda and the ruling party meant well, they would have withdrawn from the house, amend it by way of wider consultation and consensus building, and take a new Bill to the House containing the recommendations of the select committee and all progressive views from citizens.

“While the Given Lubinda initiated amendments were purportedly meant to incorporate the recommendations of the select committee, the amendments did not only leave out a large portion of the select committee recommendations such as clause 47, (dealing with mixed member electoral system); clause 12 (not to relegate the composition of parliament to a subsidiary law among others), but also brought in completely new clauses that were neither in the original Bill 10 nor the select committee report. For instance, clause 15 provides that an MP could lose a seat upon conviction for more than six months or sentenced to life in prison. Ladies and gentlemen, if sneaking into the Bill things that were never discussed at any time is not a testimony of dishonesty then what is it?”

Mulenga said the PF had invested “so much time and resources in marketing Bill 10 than they have done to find the “mysterious” owners of the 48 “miracle” houses; arresting the people who were behind the gassing that claimed more than 50 lives from mob justice; the fight against corruption and combating the adverse economic effects of Covid 19, among others. The question that every progressive citizen must ask PF leaders is: what is so special about Bill 10 that so much must be invested in marketing it?”

“Citizens should not be cheated by the wolves in the sheep’s skin. As we speak today, Zambia could be the only country in Sub Saharan Africa which is a Christian nation by constitutional declaration; has a National Day of Prayer and a ministry in charge of religious affairs and national guidance, yet the country has some of the most corrupt government officials presiding over national affairs without shame,” Mulenga said.

“So, what will change having Christian morals and ethics entrenched in the constitution as provided for in Bill number 10? The PF knows too well that the proposal to entrench Christian morals and ethics in the constitution is impractical. Even the report of the select committee clearly stated that it was not attainable to have Christian morals and values as a basis of the interpretation of statutes,” she said.

“As for the representation of youths, women and disabled, there is nowhere in the Bill were this is provided for. In this regard, we wish to take this opportunity to appeal to the youth, women and the disabled not to be misled that they would be part of Parliament once Bill 10 is enacted into law because there is no provision for them in the Bill.  The mixed member electoral system provided for in clause 47 is not known as it is not defined. The Justice Minister had the chance to define what mixed member electoral system is when he decided to questionably amend the Bill. Surprisingly, he didn’t do it, in fact he delegated the matter to an Act of Parliament yet to be prescribed even against the recommendation of the select commute report.  Was it by mistake? What makes it difficult to define the mixed member electoral system in the Bill? Could this be another Don’t Kubeba on the youth, women and persons with disabilities?”

Mulenga appealed to Lubinda President to withdraw Bill 10 completely from parliament and do the right thing.

“However, if the Executive, using the arrogance of numbers proceeds with Bill 10, we have this to say to all the Members of Parliament: as you go to vote on Bill 10 on Friday or any other day; think of your children, think of your legacy after political life is over and think of the millions of citizens whose present and future well-being depends on your vote to allow or stop Bill 10 from becoming law. A vote for Bill 10 is a betrayal to your children, legacy and country. Would you rather betray your children, country and citizens for immediate political expediency and may be few pieces of silver? We don’t think so. The nation is watching. Posterity will judge you accordingly. Get the money and vehicles that the Executive is allegedly giving you in exchange for a yes vote for Bill 10. However, when it comes to voting, just make sure that Bill 10 never sees the light of day in which ever legal way you choose to kill and bury it. Bill 10 must fall,” said Mulenga.

©Kalemba June 20 2020

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