TO say the constitution of Zambia (amendment) bill, 2019 is useless is an understatement; it’s evil and ought to be withdrawn, says the Zambia Congress of Trade Union.
ZCTU deputy secretary general Elaston Njovu in an interview urged Zambians to save themselves from a path of self-destruction by saying no to the bill.
He explained that the National Dialogue Forum was void of dialogue as most of the ‘so-called’ resolutions were arrived at through a vote rather than a voice of reason.
Njovu said the NDF process was frustrating, robbed of its dialogue status and was reduced to a monologue.
“The whole process leading to the NDF was a conflicted one because after their so-called Siavonga resolutions, they began to differ sharply. They [stakeholders] differed as to who was going to chair the meeting because the whole spirit was about national dialogue. Most of the so-called resolutions were arrived at through a vote and arrogance of numbers rather than a voice of reason,” he said.
“They were saying is it the Church or the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue [to chair] but obviously logic showed that if the Church was going to chair those discussions, the dialogue forum, it was going to be the most fair thing to do. As a Congress, we felt at that point that there can never be a better mediator between warring parties than the Church because the Church is neutral.”
Njovu added that the NDF was an offshoot of a system with a nonsensical agenda.
He said the idea of introducing deputy ministers and a coalition government would remain nonsensical in the eyes of the ZCTU.
Njovu insisted that the idea of coalition government gave more advantage to the ruling party against the opposition.
He said there were a number of clauses that the ZCTU was against, among them the one that infringed on the future of retirees.
He pointed out that Article 189, which takes away the retirees’ pension, was tantamount to subjecting workers to poverty and destitution.
Njovu warned that ZCTU would de-campaign any MP that would support “this ‘evil” clause.
“Our issues, particularly with the constitution of Zambia (amendment) bill, 2019, are as follows; we read it and we are still reading but there are issues that are still vexing our souls. We are against this Constitution Amendment Bill because it takes away the retirees’ pension under Article 189. This will lead to increased poverty, homelessness, as many retirees will not be able to build their own homes and children will stop going to school as an average retiree in Zambia at the point of retiring still has three or four children to support,” Njovu said. “We are passionate about this and have warned that should MPs proceed with this bill, we will de-campaign them. 2021 is coming and it shall be an open de-campaign, it won’t be secret. Why would we put people in power who are killing retirees, killing the future of workers?”
He added that the introduction of deputy ministers did not make sense as the government had continued to run effectively without the said office.
“What’s the motive behind reintroducing this office? To create a huge cost to the Zambian people in an already struggling economy? We feel strongly that there is no reason to re-introduce deputy ministers and we should not make a mistake of doing so. The Congress is represented all over this country and a lot of workers are vexed about the issues of corruption and so they dare not continue vexing our spirits,” Njovu said.
“We are also against this bill because it seeks to introduce a coalition government which will lead to a one party state, whether people like it or not. Those of us who have more eyes to see because we went to school, have seen it. They can ride on the ignorance of many Zambians but the duty is upon us who are enlightened to enlighten our brothers and sisters who are being cheated. This will lead to a one party state because it gives undue advantage to the ruling party to join hands with any losing party in order to form government. This is the way they seek to disguise themselves in forming a one party state and citizens will be held in perpetuity of suffering.”
He said ZCTU was against the bill because it sought to keep members of parliament in government office until the general elections and would therefore lead to plunder and abuse of national resources.
Njovu said to keep the National Assembly running ahead of the elections would give undue advantage to the ruling party.
He urged Zambians to read in order to be informed and stop dancing to useless melodies from politicians.
“I am just wondering how the Zambians have gotten hold of this useless bill, crafted in a very selfish manner. This is why as a Congress we are upbeat in trying to sensitise Zambians now that the bill is on the floor of Parliament. We want to go flat out and educate the citizens whom the politicians always want to abuse to dance to useless songs,” he said. “We feel that it’s time Zambians stopped dancing to useless songs, it’s time Zambians begun to read and think and take interest in national issues. That’s how you define a patriot. A patriotic Zambian is someone who goes out there, reads, listens to the radio and read newspapers. We don’t like this bill and we are not in support.”
Njovu also said ZCTU opposed the shortening of the campaign period from 90 days to 60.
He said the excuse of saving costs by reducing the campaign period did not make sense.
“In that dialogue they were saying we want to save costs but at the same time they want to have MPs and Cabinet ministers remain in office, that’s demonic and evil. We have people who don’t mean well for this country and it is time well-meaning Zambians join hands and say ‘enough is enough, we are not fools, we can’t be taken for a ride like this’,” Njovu said.
He said the bill seeks to entrench dictatorship where one group of people champion people’s destiny without their consent.
“400 people met at the NDF claiming to have represented all Zambians; what kind of democracy is that? Where did they consult Zambians and they said ‘we wanted to re-introduce deputy ministers?’. They continue to rule over you without your approval and this is exactly what they want to do,” Njovu said. “This bill also seeks to kill the Financial Intelligence Centre. Why the agitation about the FIC? Whenever that report comes out, it’s the people in office that cry foul when it is the same people, our leaders who should say it’s good. The agitation from people in high office, that’s not right. We insisted that the FIC is left to operate autonomously and independently. They are not supposed to muzzle the FIC and this thing of calling the arrest of whistleblowers is demonic and that reminds me of what the bible says, that there will come a time when good will be called evil and evil will be called good, that’s a danger that we are facing this time in the history of this country…this bill is useless for any well-meaning Zambian.”
Njovu said any person who thinks properly, using their God-given senses, should say the bill was not good.
“The 2016 Constitution has its own problems but this one is worse, mark my words and if it goes through, Zambians will live to regret,” warned Njovu. “ZCTU is on record having said it should not even be tabled, it should be withdrawn. We insist that it’s actually a useless bill and to say useless is an understatement, it’s evil and ought to be withdrawn. Ministry of Justice needs to be reminded that the Congress is watching and Congress has people all over the country and will do what is best to de-campaign some people.”/SM/LM