[By Masuzyo Chakwe and Christopher Miti]
ALL Peoples Congress president Nason Msoni says the majority of PF leaders without a shred of doubt are potential jailbirds under any future new Zambian government.
And Yotam Mtayachalo says posterity will judge parliamentarians harshly if they do not do the right thing on constitutional amendment bill number 10.
Msoni said bill 10 should also be viewed as a last ditch effort to save their backsides from going to prison and being held accountable for their actions.
“Bill no.10 is a political life-saving jacket for Mr Edgar Lungu and all those PF minions already convinced that they have lost the elections before even the actual elections are held,” Msoni said in his comments over the bill.
He stated that Bill 10 was intended to mitigate the loss by shamelessly playing extremely dirty through disadvantaging opponents.
Msoni said it was absolutely criminal to start changing the ground rules when a game had already started playing.
He stated that the serial losses of parliamentary by-elections recently had undoubtedly had a profound effect on the PF leadership and ultimately triggering panic, leading to the crafting of the “most useless and senseless self-serving bill” to amend the Republican constitution.
“Arguably, Mr Edgar Lungu knows too well being an experienced regular gambler that the odds of winning the 2021 elections in a free and fair election are overwhelmingly against him, hence the crafting of Bill 10. Bill 10 is the effort of last resort to keep and maintain themselves in office through a fraudulent amendment that contradicts the very essence of legality. It completely renders the electoral code of conduct useless and invalid,” he stated.
“The outcome of such an election cannot be said to be free and fair when the law allows for the entire government system to be a contestant in the general election. In the current setting, it is only the Republican President and Vice-President accorded state courtesy to use State equipment and other State paraphernalia after the dissolution of Parliament.”
Msoni stated that in contrast, the proposed amendment as contained in bill 10 allows the remaining entire government system to abuse State resources and equipment to campaign and receive personal emoluments whilst misusing government funds.
He stated that the proposed removal of the oversight role of Parliament to scrutinise loans was meant to hide, deceive and cheat Zambians on the extent of indebtedness and also to give government a freehand to recklessly contract loans privately as though government was a personal and private estate.
Msoni stated that the private borrowing by government under the proposed bill was meant to secretly bankroll PF campaigns and facilitating for the lubrication of the supper structure of deputy ministers to be appointed and cabinet ministers through the use of public funds to be contracted through hidden loans.
“A sense of shame is not a bad moral campus for any self-respecting political leadership. The obnoxious amendment to the constitution is meant to aid cheating and legitimatising electoral fraud and retaining the status quo,” he stated.
“But again the prospects and fear of going to prison for embezzlement, extortion, corruption and fraud is another motivating factor for the PF leaders to hurriedly and desperately be pushing for the obnoxious and shocking amendment.”
Msoni stated that Bill 10 was a transitional document meant only to facilitate and escape personal liabilities and most likely to be discarded after fraudulently stealing the elections.
“In other words, the whole bill 10 is a transitory piece of legislation meant to be used to facilitate cheating and stealing of an election. Truthfully speaking, they [PF] don’t have the numbers to win an election but they do have the power to manoeuvre and manipulate the legislative process to their political benefits that is only assuming that PF PMs accept to render themselves into political Zombies,” he stated.
“We collectively urge our parliamentarians to embrace patriotism for once and to act in the best interest of the overwhelming majority by unanimously rejecting the defective and opportunistic bill crafted to undermine public good.
By voting in favour of this bill, in essence, you are allowing further extensive damage to our country through the reckless contraction of loans and sustained grand theft of public resources. Be wise,” stated Msoni.
In a statement, Mtayachalo, the former general secretary for National Energy Sector and Allied Workers Union, stated that the bill had some retrogressive clauses.
“The country has been robbed of the constitution, which reflects the will of the people. While political parties, before they are voted into power, promise to deliver a people driven constitution, however, they abdicate their covenants they make with the people after being voted into office largely because the citizenry has not been proactive enough in holding leaders accountable for failure to honour their campaign promises. It is in light of the foregoing that I want to join progressive forces in reminding our members of parliament that they have a responsibility or a duty to safeguard the interest of many silent Zambians because this particular bill does not reflect the will of the people and in fact there are on trial as people’s representatives as they deal with this very critical matter otherwise posterity shall judge them harshly if they do not do the right thing for the country as parliamentarians,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that the bill bestows enormous powers in the hands of the executive.
“First and foremost, as a patriotic Zambian, I want to come in full support of the stance taken by some civil society organisations(CSOs), the labour movement and other stakeholders in urging members of parliament to vote against bill 10 because it has some retrogressive clauses, which are detrimental to the nation and actually potentially it will undermine democratic institutions of good governance as it bestows enormous powers in the hands of the executive. I strongly feel that some provisions such as clause 189 which abolishes employees to remain on the pay roll until the employer has paid their retirement or redundancy benefits in full is retrogressive because it will again lead to pensioners to become destitute after retirement hence lowering their dignity,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that the constitution should stand a test of time.
“There are also other clauses in the bill such as appointment of deputy ministers, removal of powers of Parliament from approving contraction of government loans and that of the central bank from being the custodian of printing the country’s currency, among many others, which are not in the interest of the nation and one wonders why the PF is pushing such an agenda as if it will be in power forever forgetting about tomorrow. Further, a constitution, if it has to stand the test of time ought to be people and as such the government should also provide room and take into account dissenting voices and embrace genuine dialogue in regard to the constitution making process,” he stated.
“Furthermore, Zambia should have been a role model in the sub region on issues of constitutionalism because it is among the pioneers of democracy in Africa and I think it is important for the country to maintain its democratic values instead of reversing these gains achieved so far,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that it was unacceptable that Zambia had failed to enact a constitution which was a product of a consultative and consensus building process.
“This is because every government which comes into office embarks on its own constitution review or amendment process which in my view is not progressive at all. Moreover, I strongly believe that as a country, it is high time we reached a stage when we must formulate a constitution which shall stand the test of time but this can only be made possible if the people themselves are alert and drive the whole agenda unlike leaving the process to politicians who have vested interests,” stated Mtayachalo.