Civil Society Urges Patriotic Members of Parliament to Reject the ‘Resurrected’ Bill 10
Lusaka, 23 September 2020: The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) considers the reintroduction of the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019 as a confirmation of the ruling Patriotic Front’s determination to push for a de facto one-party state at whatever cost. We call on patriotic Members of Parliament to resoundingly reject this desperate attempt to adulterate our Constitution.
CiSCA maintains that Bill 10 is not well intended, and its proponents do not mean well for our country. Among inimical provisions that Zambians are opposed to are the proposals to fundamentally alter our government structure by an obscure proposal to amend how the Legislature will be constituted through a ‘mixed member electoral system’ subsidiary legislation as ‘will be prescribed’. The other is to remove people’s powers to challenge individuals vying for political office through the courts of law by repealing Article 52 of our Constitution. Yet another is to introduce a 4th wing of government by proposing that instead of the rotational annual chair-ship of the House of Chiefs the Bill proposes that one traditional leader will be chairperson of the House for a period of 5 years making that individual an actual traditional head of state! And there is no brainer who the candidate they have planned for this position is.
The Bill further seeks to leave out the provisions on removal of the President on grounds of ‘physical’ or ‘mental’ capacity leaving only the legal route and we all know how that has panned out in the past and how long such processes take. Furthermore, the Bill proposes to repeal the clause that allows governments the pursuit of corruptly stolen and offshore stashed national resources through customary international law. In addition, the Bill proposes to remove article 60 (1) that allows political parties to disseminate information on sound economic programmes, of national character and of its political ideology, to take this provision to subsidiary legislations which, we strongly suspect will fit in the narrative of the Brian Mundubile, Chanda Nyela, Christopher Yaluma, Prof. Nkandu Luo, GBM’s narrative of ‘those others can’t come here.’ For some strange reason the Bill seems to restrict the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court to only interpret the Bill of Rights! How then can anyone claim that the Bill will improve the country?
The PF lamentably failed a cardinal litmus test in facilitating a people driven constitution making process, when during the recess of Parliament due to COVID-19 and when Bill 10’s natural life expired, they did not make even a feeble effort to try and build consensus on Bill 10 by reaching out to opponents of the Bill. Instead we were subjected to threats of how the Bill would be enacted regardless of opposition to it. We heard embarrassingly hypocritical statements of, “We should inculcate the value of peace and love among our members. There is only one Zambia. The Zambia that belongs to all of us.” And immediately after the speech there was the reintroduction of a subject matter that has polarized the nation to its core, Bill 10. This will continue on the 18th of October when the height of hypocrisy will be on display during the so-called National Day of Prayer! We extol the conveners of this hypocritical funfair disguised as prayers to, “Leave your gifts there before the altar. First go and be reconciled with your brother or sister and then come and offer your gift.”
We are aware that the PF desperately need Bill 10 to pass so that they can manipulate national systems and institutions for their own benefit. Zambians will not allow a one-party system to be reintroduced.
CiSCA appeals to Members of Parliament especially the opposition and independents to thoroughly reject the resurrected Bill 10. They must send the Bill back to where it belongs, to the dustbin of history. We remind the MPs that they should not get carried away as they are now left with 11 months before the end of their terms. The same Bill 10 may return to bite them when they leave office.
CiSCA Acting Chairperson