When Justice Minister Given Lubinda announced efforts to amend the Constitution of Zambia, he did it with a great deal of arrogance and an inexcusable insult to the people of Zambia. My friend, the Attorney General, took no time in implementing this cunning plan. At first, we were told that the effort was just clean up some sections of the constitution that needed a little refinement. However, to our shock and consternation, Mr Lubinda hired a group of pseudo-intellectual quacks who went for the over-kill. It was no longer about refining the constitution, but rather a complete overhaul of Zambia’s constitutional framework and structure. The Constitution Amendment Bill (2019), which we appropriately christened as Bill 10 came with a fury. In the Bill, Parliament was going to lose its oversight powers over the executive. Deputy ministers were to be re-introduced. Judges would be appointed at will, and their constitutionalised numbers would be reduced to the simple parliamentary statute. The Bill introduced a coalition government in a system that practices a presidential system of elections. The Bill proposed to replace the first past the post system with an ill-defined and undefined Mixed-Member Electoral System (MMES) without elaborating what this MMES was or meant. Lacking in rational detail, the Bill made up in confused arguments purveyed by its apologists – a group of total losers without a shred of constitutional theory backing their many words. It was a complete mess!
However, the Patriotic Front (PF) government kept on with their arrogance. They insisted that they will pass the Bill. They insisted that the Bill was in the interest of Zambians. And yet, they did not consult the very people they are claiming to serve. They came up with the NDF, a forum that met in Lusaka with many Lusaka based NGOs. The NDF had 10 days to transact serious business of endorsing this constitution from hell. Not even a simple court brief can be written in 10 days. Not even an essay for a college can be done in 10 days, and yet here they were, Lubinda, Kalaluka and Lungu insisting that the NDF would write the country’s constitution in 10 days. What a total sham! There they were, men and women who lacked appropriate moral compass deceiving themselves that they were writing a constitution in the interest of “the people”. Which people?
Essential players in our country’s affairs were shunned. The opposition UPND was excluded, or it excluded itself. The Church mother bodies were ignored. Church mother bodies – that is the serious 3 mother bodies. Of course, President Lungu found several other church mother bodies, mainly belonging to my Pentecostal faith, which were used very skillfully to claim to represent the church. These Pentecostal church bodies are not legitimate about anything constitutionally tangible. They lack deep insight into the constitution or what it means to be a republic. Most Pentecostals’ knowledge or interest in the Constitution of Zambia begins and ends with the following words – “Zambia is a Christian nation”. As long as you hoodwink these feeble souls with a semblance of the Declaration – you can literally steal the earth off their feet and they will celebrate with dances that would make Tshala Muana appear like an amateur. We have called on Pentecostals to be more reasonable and take interest in the constitution beyond the Declaration – but as evidenced in one prophet who called fire and brimstone on Hakainde Hichilema, my Pentecostal faith movement has continued in its complete insolence towards constitutionalism and the rule of law. It is only unserious political characters that take these charades seriously. But it is this ilk that President Lungu found tremendous comfort and adopted them as his Bill 10 advisors.
Ms. Linda Kasonde, a fiery lady we differed with when she opposed Mr. Kalaluka’s appointment as Attorney General (we supported Mr. Kalaluka’s nomination, and boy, weren’t we wrong!), filed a lawsuit challenging Bill 10. The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) also filed a court challenge. These two court cases were a great effort at bringing visibility to the issue. In record time, the Constitutional Court of Zambia made its ruling: the court claimed to have no jurisdiction over a bill, any bill. Even if a bill proposed to change the structure of their court and the constitutional structure of Zambia, the Constitutional Court judges said no, they could not intervene. We understand that there is a dissenting opinion from Madam Justice Munalula – the only academically, educationally, and constitutionally sophisticated judge to understand the role of a Constitution Court in a democracy. The other judges of the Constitutional Court would much instead make noise about former ministers reimbursing Mr. Kalaluka with K2 for illegal stay in power than actually standing up for the constitution of Zambia. It will take us time to review the judgment from the honourable Constitutional Court because weeks after their preliminary ruling, we have still not received the written decisions. If and when they release those decisions, we shall be on hand to react to set the record straight for our country’s posterity. Responding we must and we shall.
The only last line of defence regarding Bill 10 is now parliament. Parliament needs 111 votes to advance Bill 10 to Second Reading. The PF chickened out last Wednesday, December 4, 2019, and failed to take the Bill to Second Reading. They just had no numbers. But in typical dishonest style, the PF operatives thoughtlessly started to spread lies that they somehow had the numbers to pass Bill 10, but they had some pressing issues to attend to, hence the deferring of the Second Reading to February 2020. We know the PF has no numbers because the opposition has rejected Bill 10. Compounding the confusion for the Lubinda-Lungu-Kalaluka camp; a parliamentary committee that had been tasked to scrutinise Bill 10 came back with a blistering report into Bill 10 rejecting the bulk of Bill 10 contents.
As predicted, the PF losers went on the radio claiming that the Nakacinda Committee’s report into Bill 10 was actually their newly found “Bill 10”. These phonies left no stone unturned in their treachery. It was sad that even honourable Luapulans like Mr. Sebastian Kopulande, a saint of a man, has been seduced to completely disregard common sense. He is spreading false information that somehow the Nakacinda Report has now amended Bill 10.
As for Honourable Lungwangwa, he stops making sense when he states that he will support Bill 10 because it is what the people of Nalikwanda wanted for him. What a sham of a once honourable gentleman. He is now claiming that politics in Zambia is too divisive. What does he expect when the PF feel and believe that they can go ahead to singlehandedly upset Zambia’s constitutional structure? Weren’t we just amending the constitution in 2016? What is it that makes the PF want to drastically change the country’s constitution so quickly, so widely, and so deeply? And when we ask these questions, Honourable Lungwangwa thinks we are divisive?
If Mr Lungwangwa no longer has interest in representing the ordinary people of Nalikwanda, except for his belly, we are kindly asking him to do one little thing – resign so that someone who has a smaller stomach can take over. Petersen Zagaze has permed hair (well at least from a few years ago, I understand he now has natural is laka hair), but at least the young man is not letting the belly dictate his politics. If the people of Nalikwanda want to try someone and something new, and spicy; they can give Mr Zagaze a try. We are tired of being betrayed by the same group of politicians who have been eating in MMD, eating in UPND and now they want to betray the people by eating with PF on Bill 10.
Further, this honourable gentleman claimed that he has somehow made the PF change the contents of Bill 10 such that the new Bill 10 is not as toxic as the original version. Honourable Lungwangwa is straight-out lying when he says that there is a new Bill 10 that is more palatable to the people of Zambia. If he is referring to the Nakacinda Report, then we have some news for him. The Nakacinda Report does not bind and cannot restrict Honourable Given Lubinda’s executive. It is not up to Lungwangwa to “change” Bill 10. It is up to the PF government to change it, remove it or reject it. If Mr Lungwangwa goes ahead to vote for Bill 10; he will be voting for the return of deputy ministers, for increased presidential powers and for the reduced common sense accountability. If Lungwangwa votes for Bill 10, he will be voting for the president’s unchallengeable powers to divide provinces according to his wishes. We are hoping that Mr. Lungwangwa will come back to his senses as soon as possible and stop this charade of deception.
We do have a lot to say about Mr. Tutwa Ngulube and Mr. Makebi Zulu. To deal with Mr. Tutwa, all we need is to replay that Prime TV interview with Cornelius Mweetwa and McDonald Chipenzi; and Tutwa is sorted!
The only appropriate thing to do regarding Bill 10 is to have it rest in peace. The Bill is dead. As an Ushi of Milenge, and in keeping with our tradition and customs, after the death of something as big as this Bill, there is only one question to ask – where is isambo lya mfwa? I am sure Mr. Zayello has a word or two to say at this isambo.
The author is a blogger at eliasmunshya.org and has been writing on Bill 10 for months. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org./SM