MMD national deputy spokesperson Peter Phiri has said most members of parliament attending the National Dialogue Forum are doing so under duress.
In a statement, Phiri said most parliamentarians currently attending the Forum at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre were doing so for fear of being prosecuted.
“While we appreciate the decision to convene the National Dialogue Forum aimed at discussing and ironing out contentious governance issues affecting the nation, we feel that by threatening members of parliament that might abscond this indaba with imprisonment of up to six months as provided for in the National Dialogue Bill that was recently tabled before Parliament; we feel that most parliamentarians attending the National Dialogue Forum are doing so under duress because they fear that they might be prosecuted,” Phiri said. “Dialogue should not be about coercion, but willingness to discuss issues freely in order to reach consensus on issues affecting society.”
Phiri advised delegates to come up with resolutions that would enhance constitutionalism and democracy.
“We would also want to caution delegates attending the National Dialogue Forum, particularly members of parliament, not to formulate laws that are aimed at fixing political opponents. Under the MMD regime we saw how authorities came up with a parentage clause in the Republican Constitution with a view to bar Dr Kenneth Kaunda from vying for presidency. We also saw the enactment of a law that made theft of motor vehicle an unbailable offence with a view to fix an individual. Unfortunately it worked against late president Michael Sata,” he recalled. “So going forward, as a member of the MMD, I would like to advise delegates attending the on-going National Dialogue Forum to come up with resolutions that will enhance constitutionalism and democracy. As a nation, we need to look at a bigger picture and come up with progressive laws. Individuals attending this national indaba should look at the interest of majority Zambians and not personal interests.”
Phiri expressed optimism that the National Dialogue Forum would result in constitutional and electoral reform that would enhance democracy in the country.