DR FRED M’membe says Bill No. 10 of 2019 is a troubled one.
Dr M’membe, the Socialist Party president, says sensible constitutional-making is about building consensus, even with political minorities.
The contentious Constitution (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 was on Wednesday postponed to February next year.
It initially was scheduled to be tabled for second reading, for debates on the day the deferment was announced by acting justice minister Stephen Kampyongo.
It needs a two thirds majority to pass to a third reading stage.
“The issue of Bill 10, whether it’s deferred, dealt with now or in the future and so on, it’s a troubled bill. It’s not the best approach to deal with constitutional matters,” Dr M’membe told journalists at an interaction meeting at his Garden Compound office in Lusaka yesterday.
“Constitutional matters are not for bulldozing; it’s not about how much political muscle you have to get your wish or how much majority you have in Parliament. It’s about building consensus, even with those who are political minorities – they need to be carried on board so that the Constitution that comes out of there has a general ownership.”
He added that whatever those in the Executive did, “at the end of the day this will not be a national Constitution in the real sense of the word.”
“It will be a Constitution that belongs to its sponsors and we know who the sponsors are and they are the ones defending it with everything that they have. [They are] promoting it with everything that they have, advancing it with almost everything that they have,” Dr M’membe, a lawyer, said.
“If it’s for everybody, why not mull over things, consider the feelings of others and move with them? Why are they so bent on having a Constitution that has so much controversy around it?”
Dr M’membe wondered why those championing the enactment of Bill No.10 could not wait and deal with all the disagreements.
“Whatever comes out of this will be deformed. This is not the way to go about amending the Constitution, especially when so many important things are at stake in these amendments,” he advised.
About the recent diplomatic spat between Lusaka and Washington, Dr M’membe noted that: “when dealing with other people, there’s need for respect.”
“Even when you differ, respect others. It’s not all the time that we’ll agree on everything! Pouring scorn, insults on another human being is not only a wrong way of dealing with others but it doesn’t produce the desired results,” he said.
“What has been happening to the American Ambassador (Daniel Foote) happens every day to Zambians. Fellow citizens are being humiliated every day, insulted every day, ridiculed every day for simply exercising their right of expression, their right to participate in the affairs of this country.”
Dr M’membe added that extending mockery to foreign policy brought complications.
“What your fellow citizens can take, foreign governments may not take [because] you don’t control them. The Zambian government does not control the Unites States. Yes, the Zambian government also has the right not to be controlled by the United States. But deal with others with civility, disagree respectfully,” advised Dr M’membe.
On Friday last week, Ambassador Foote weighed-in on gayism, and urged the government of Zambia to consider its outdated stance on homosexuals.
His comment followed the sentencing of two Kapiri Mposhi men to 15 years imprisonment for having sex against the order of nature.
The diplomat advised Zambian authorities to uniformly frown on other distasteful stuff like government officials stealing public finances and political violence.
But government officials and other voices aligned to the PF have picked on homosexuality only and are disparagingly running with it, saying Ambassador Foote is encouraging Zambians to embrace such an arrangement.