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I have not seen any MP consulting chiefs or my subjects over Bill 10, says Chitambo

CHIEF Chitambo of the Lala speaking people of Central Province has urged members of parliament to consult their constituents on Constitution Amendment Bill 10 of 2019.

And chief Chitambo has urged opposition members of parliament not to boycott the debate on Constitution Amendment Bill 10 next month, but “ensure that they attend all Parliamentary debates on this important national issue and strive to make their case known.”

In interview on Friday, chief Chitambo said that parliamentarians should ensure that they consult the electorate on Bill 10 before it could be tabled in the next session of Parliament.

The traditional leader observed that the Constitution making should be a consultative process, which should not be left to politicians alone.

“I have not seen any MP consulting traditional leaders or my subjects over the matter. I know that there is a [Parliamentary Select] Committee that has been put in place. I just see that committee on TV, but I have never seen them coming to consult us on Bill 10 in my chiefdom. And since this [Parliamentary Select] Committee has not done a good job in as far as consulting the Zambian citizens on this issue, my appeal to the members of parliament is that before Parliament resumes sitting in February; they should ensure that they engage the electorate on this important national issue,” chief Chitambo (Frederick Chisenga) said.

He also said there was need for the government to engage traditional leaders on the Constitution making process, stressing that traditional leaders play a key role in the governance system.

Chief Chitambo also noted that there were some lacunas in the current Republican Constitution.

He said that Constitution Amendments were inevitable.

“Yes, we can say there are still some lacunas in our current Republican Constitution. We need to refine this document….we need a Constitution that would stand the test of time. I personally strongly feel that we need to go into the 2021 general elections with a refined Republican Constitution. As things stand right now, amendments to the Republican Constitution are inevitable,” chief Chitambo said.

And Chief Chitambo urged opposition members of parliament not to boycott the debate on Constitution Amendment Bill 10 next month, but “attend all parliamentary debates on this important national issue and strive to make their case known.”

“What I think is that there’s fear of the unknown amongst politicians. Like I said, we need to have a Constitution that will meet the aspirations of the general citizenry, and not just politicians. Therefore, I would like to appeal to all members of parliament, particularly opposition members of parliament and independent MPs, to ensure that they do not resort to this tendency of boycotting Parliamentary debates when the Constitution Amendment Bill 10 comes up in the House. Members of parliament that are boycotting Parliamentary debates during Bill 10 are exhibiting some element of cowardice…they are proving to be cowards,” charged chief Chitambo. “These UPND members of parliament that want to continue boycotting parliamentary debates should not shun discussing Bill 10, but should always endeavour, indeed strive to make their case known in Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Chitambo urged authorities in the ministries of education and health to ensure that members deployed to work in rural areas are physically present.

He pointed out that the low staffing levels prevailing in rural health and education facilities was as a result of individuals not reporting to their duty stations.

The traditional leader observed that the “man-made low staffing levels in schools and health centres were adversely impacting on effective and efficient service delivery in rural communities.”

“We have noticed with concern that people that are being recruited by the government to go and teach in rural schools have a tendency to abscond from the public schools where they have been deployed to render service. The tendency by individuals being deployed to teach in rural school, but without physical presence in those learning institution, has the potential to negatively affect the attainment of quality education in rural communities,” chief Chitambo observed.

“While we appreciate that government is making great strides in ensuring that education and health facilities, as well as quality services are provided to citizens across the country without leaving any one behind; by constructing health centres and building schools, coupled with the upgrading of primary schools to secondary schools, as traditional leaders, we feel that the provision of quality services in the health and education sectors will remain a pipedream,” said chief Chitambo.

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