(By Edwin Mbulo and Oliver Chisenga)
MR LUNGU and his NDF are planning to rape the Constitution in full view of Zambians, charges NDC vice-president Josephs Akafumba. He urges Zambians to be alert and reject President Edgar Lungu’s attempts to rewrite the supreme law of the land. In an interview, Akafumba said Zambia would soon be worse than Zimbabwe. Akafumba, a lawyer, says the University of Zambia certified Edgar Lungu and Zimbabwe’ s Emmerson Munangagwa as Southern Africa’s best dictators by awarding the two Presidents with honorary doctorates.
In an interview, the former Southern Province PF chairperson said Zambians need to wake up and remove President Lungu from office.
“At the rate we are at, I can assure you that we will be worse than Zimbabwe economically, and in terms of governance, we are on the death bed,” Akafumba said.
He added that the political intolerance in Zimbabwe was a bad recipe being slowly adopted by President Lungu.
“We all know that Zimbabwe is economically dead, they can’t even print passports and yet we have Zambians, especially in Livingstone and Chirundu surviving on their 10kg bags of mealie-meal. This is so good for Mr Lungu and his bandwagon…they (Zimbabwe) at least have not closed any university as has done Mr Lungu and his ‘prophet’ [higher education minister] Nkandu Luo,” Akafumba said. “That is why I say we will be worse than Zimbabwe. Our brothers across the Zambezi River can’t even sit in groups of over 10 in a bar as they can face arrest for illegal assembly.”
Akafumba, who is National Democratic Congress vice-president, said UNZA had let down the people of Zimbabwe.
“What good governance has Mr Lungu and his Zimbabwean friend brought to their people? Mr Lungu and his NDF [National Dialogue Forum] are planning to rape the Constitution in full view of Zambians while the Zimbabwean President also meddled in the petition case against him after the presidential elections, just as was done here,” Akafumba said.
He appealed to Zambians to be alert and reject PF manoeuvres to change the Constitution.
“I appeal to all Zambians to be alert and reject all attempts by Mr Lungu and his team from re-writing our supreme law. Why should we be a nation that constantly changes a constitution year in and out?” Akafumba asked. “The man put up a great show at Heroes Stadium to sign the constitution. Is he now telling us that he signed a wrong document? He ignored Zambians’ views over the document and it has left many institutions, especially the judiciary at sea over its implications on legal matters.”
And Akafumba said allowing the constitution amendment bill to go through will be opening a very bad door for future governments.
Following the government’s gazetting the bill, Akafumba said the National Dialogue Forum that made the recommendations and proposals for amendment to the constitution was a product of a poisoned tree.
He said since the PF was already in motion even after much resistance, the only remaining avenue was for members of parliament to reject the bill.
Akafumba said it was clear the PF government was not prepared to listen to the people over the constitution.
“The only avenue remaining now is that members of parliament must critically look at all those clauses, which came not from the people but from the PF. You do recall that Tutwa Ngulube not long ago told us that the coalition government and deputy ministers additions did not come from PF, but from opposition parties? But who do those opposition parties represent because most of those opposition parties that went to the National Dialogue Forum are ‘nashala neka’ parties, so at what point did they consult the people to come up with those clauses?” Akafumba asked.
He said none of the clauses and proposed laws adopted for possible enactment by Parliament came from the people but were made “by PF for PF interest”.
Akafumba appealed to all members of Parliament to open their ears and eyes over the process.
“The whole document must be critically analysed by our MPs irrespective of their political alignment and must take the future and present of this country into consideration. [By] allowing this amendment to the constitution to go through, they will be opening a very bad door for future governments to amend the constitution even in their bedrooms and taking it to Parliament for mere rubber-stamping. I am saying this against the background that it has been an established fact that Parliament has not always been the best when it comes to matters of constitutional refinement or amendment because most of the MPs vote on party lines. But on this one, we are telling them that let them take the interest of the people,” said Akafumba.
“None of those clauses came from one individual. It was the clause made by PF, for PF interest, so it’s again our last appeal as NDC to all the MPs across the board to open their ears and eyes and for once listen to the people. That NDF thing is a product of the poisoned tree and you cannot refine something that is bad from the word ‘go’. It doesn’t make sense at all and makes the entire country a laughing stock constitutionally were just a few individuals fine tune or redefine whatever they want to put in the constitution. It’s not right and should not be allowed. Allowing this to go through will clearly indicate that they do not have the interest of this country at heart and will only be interested in their salaries and their stomachs, which will be extremely unfortunate.”
The NDF adopted the following proposals for possible enactment by Parliament; The draft Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the draft Electoral Process (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the draft Public Order Bill, 2019.
The Forum also made the following amendments to the Constitution Bill 2019: Revision of the preamble to confirm that Zambia remains a Christian nation by removing the words “multi religious”;
Adopt the principle for formation of coalition government where candidates fail to reach the 50 per cent plus one winning threshold provided the parties to a coalition government manage to galvanise the total of 50 per cent plus one;
Confirm that the National Assembly shall only dissolve at the date of the general election to allow members of parliament complete their full five-year term.
Other amendments to the Constitution Bill 2019 include, the provision for entry of women and marginalised groups in Parliament and councils through the mixed member electoral system; affirm people’s right to freedom of conscience by removing Section 9 clause 1 of the Public Order Bill which penalises people who refuse to sing the National Anthem. This means that it is not mandatory for any group to sing the National Anthem except at public functions;
Revise the period for hearing of a presidential petition to 30 calendar days from the 14 days;
Provide for the appointment of deputy ministers, and, civil servants intending to seek political office must resign from their jobs two years before elections.
But Akafumba said the architects of the NDF proposals must understand that the constitution refinement was not like any other process but was law that must come from people, not a few individuals.
“That’s why in its preamble it says ‘we the people’. It does not say ‘we the PF’ or ‘I Edgar Lungu’, no. So the MPs must take into consideration that all the contents in that constitution did not come from the people. Let them challenge the presenter for instance, how many people made submissions on particular clauses? For example, the removal from payroll the retirees who have not been paid, how many people made that submission? Deputy ministers, how many made that submission? Even the coalition cabinet; really, how many people made such a submission? In this case no one made those submissions, they were just assembled by the PF and taken to parliament for rubber stamping,” Akafumba said.
He urged members of parliament to refuse to be used by those who did not have the heart for the country.
“For once let the MPs refuse to be used and say no, especially those from the ruling party. They must show their independence, they must show that they are able to analyse and vote with their conscience and mind and not by virtue of being members of the PF. For once, we need to move away from this alignment to political parties. I know that most MPs vote according to dictates of their parties but we have told our MP to vote with his conscience and his eyes open, taking in consideration the interest of the people of Roan and people of Zambia. Is it going to enhance democracy? If the answer is ‘no’, then the whole bill should just be thrown into the dustbin.”
Akafumba lamented that, “It was our hope that Edgar Lungu, being a lawyer and having experience in what we went through the judge Silungwe constitutional amendment, that this time he was going to do things better. Even a first year constitutional law student would agree that it offends all basic needs, requirements or benchmark for coming up with a constitution because the people were not consulted.”
Akafumba noted that in a situation where people were not consulted, the end result was that people would reject the constitution.
“It’s not their constitution and it will be tied to Edgar Lungu and will go with him. It will be a Lungu constitution, which is not good for a lawyer. He must leave behind a constitution when he is in retirement he will look back and say, ‘I left a good constitution for my country’, unlike one that will go with him in 2021 since he is going,” said Akafumba.