Examine your conscious on Bill 10, Speaker Matibini told

Examine your conscious on Bill 10,  Speaker Matibini told


But Prof Michelo Hansungule

Today, Justice Minister Given Lubinda is expected to present Bill 10 to Parliament for Second Reading. If this information is correct, it is a sad day for Zambia. Particularly saddening is the fact that those who are in power claim to be doing this in the name of the people. But the people have roundly rejected this bill. If you rely on ‘PF people’ as the ‘people’ who support the bill, don’t you care that you will be enacting it on the basis of narrow partisan support? Does this not matter to you or nothing matters at all?

This is dealing with the constitution. Someone, was it Justice Minister who said secretaries general of political parties sanctioned amendments to the constitution which led to Bill Number 10, my God! Secretaries General of political parties even if this was true cannot source amendments to the constitution let alone sweeping amendments such as in Bill Number 10. For God’s sake, a political party is a contestant t political power and as such, is biased the way it views issues in the constitution. Besides, political parties do not own the constitution, how do they amend what they don’t own?

This leads me to my next point, a big disappointment with my young man Patrick Matibini, the Speaker of Parliament. Just what happens when people acquire power? I taught Patrick law and at one workshop, he kindly acknowledged me in his career development especially when he was doing his masters and PhD at the University of Zambia. At that time and later, Patrick was a very progressive young man only flirting with the rule of law. I remember us presenting and exchanging ideas on how to write and amend the constitution? At the time, we were all agreed me and him that it being such a sacred document, theory dictated that the people who owned the constitution should originate the idea to write or amend it. None of us would have suggested that a partisan process legitimated constitutional making or amendment. But now, the story is different. Why has Patrick so radically changed? I ask him: Patrick, are you going to preside over this process today and in coming sessions despite what you and I said previously and know what should be the right route to take?

I am not worried about Edgar Lungu but only about Patrick Matibini. Edgar Lungu was not actively participating in constitutional discourses before he was catapulted into PF power. I know Edgar very well and knows that he didn’t have the animated interest of engaging in serious constitutional discourses until late Michael Sata picked and dusted him. So, I am not surprised he would be approaching important issues this way. He has no background in seriously advocating for democracy post his university until the magical wand in the PF. But now that he is there, even him is expected to be driven by people and not to drive them. Constitutional theory is quite clear that a leader is someone who listens to and is guided by minority views. You cannot impose your views on a people however correct you may be. This is simply not democracy. It is even worse to listen to your praise singers in the PF. We have been through this before and one ignores it at his own peril. Look at how many foolish leaders have been toppled by the same praise singers who only yesterday sung their lungs out in their leaders’ praises Mugabe, Mubarak, Gaddafi, Bin Ali, Kamuzu, etc. Why do you think it will not happen to you? Are you sure you are so different?

At a time when the country is facing so many social challenges, there is absolutely no need to rise the temperatures even higher. There is no mealie meal in the country today and this is what should occupy Parliament this morning and afternoon. There is this global pandemic coronavirus glaring at our people which need all our energies. The Kwacha is dead and you are busy fixing the constitution purely to fix your political opponents. We just had strange deadly developments gassing and consequent mob justice deserving all the attention than proving that you are president. Why should you invest so much in proving that you are president and that you have power? C’mon, this is stuff for children.

I just returned from my village in Chief Mapanza where I came face to face with hunger. Due to poor or no harvest this past season, households are really hungry. Imagine villagers not used to buying mealie meal now have to at such high prices because they must survive? And for the majority, this is not an option. There is no money because the harvest which gives them some few coins was poor. This is the same picture in townships in Lusaka and other urban areas. If you manage to buy a ka Pamela, you are the lucky one in our townships. Everyone admires you with your ka Pamela in our compounds. Who is going to solve these problems since Edgar Lungu is fixated on his constitutional project for his political advantage?

I am appealing for Matibini to seriously ask his conscience on Bill 10. It can’t be that his role is merely procedural. Someone said so about his ill-fated decision to nullify law maker Chishimba Kambwili’s seat in Parliament. Someone calling himself Chief Whip for PF reportedly said the Speaker was only acting as per procedure, really? As lawyer you can say this regarding use of sacred powers of parliament to expel a member and disenfranchise a whole constituency? Well, Allan Paton said ‘Cry the Beloved Country’

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