Put divisive, toxic Bill 10 aside for now – VJ

VERNON Mwaanga says Bill 10 is a very divisive and toxic piece of legislation, which should be put aside for now and subjected to greater consultations with all major stakeholders.

The veteran politician said national constitutions were sacred documents, which must reflect the national aspirations of the people.

Mwaanga said a national constitution was not supposed to be a political party document.

“What has happened to the spirit of national dialogue among our political leaders which has served our country well in the past? Is temporary political advantage more important than the peace and tranquillity of our country? Many African leaders are known to be selfish, uncaring and insensitive to the needs of their people,” he noted.

“Clinging to power at all cost and amassing personal wealth have become the alpha and omega of their reign. National leaders come and go and that is why we now have our sixth President since independence. I would like to see our political leaders consult each other much more, in private and come up with workable solutions to our country’s problems. This is called responsible leadership.”

Mwaanga said Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara had raised the leadership bar by announcing that he would not run for a third term.

He said it was a misallocation of national priorities to focus on Bill 10 instead of dealing with the state of preparedness and how to deal with the Covid -19 pandemic.

“For God’s sake, let us focus on the most important things which matter to the lives of our people. Let us get this right for a change,” he said.

Mwaanga said the world was facing an unprecedented challenge caused by the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.

He said countries had been taking very drastic but necessary measures to try and slow down the spread of the virus.

“It started in Wuhan, China and quickly spread to countries like Iran, Italy, South Korea, France, Japan, Spain, USA, UK. Many countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America, including Zambia. Countries have resorted to closing their borders, closing schools, colleges, universities and nursery schools,” he said.

“Airlines have been cancelling flights, major and minor sports events have been cancelled or rescheduled to future dates. The impact on stock markets, hotels, lodges, restaurants, tourism generally, individual incomes, the transport sector ie buses, taxis and trains. Public gatherings are banned and even theatre houses have been ordered closed. Millions of people are under lockdown and some are living in isolation. The elderly living in old people’s homes cannot be visited. Patients in hospital cannot be visited either. Social distancing has also taken effect and this entails that we should not shake hands, no kissing, people are encouraged to work from home and self-quarantine.”

Mwaanga said the tragedy was that most countries do not have enough capacity to deal with even the minimum measures required to protect doctors, nurses and other health workers, who are in the frontline of treating patients.

He said face masks, gloves and safety gowns were desperately needed.

“How are we responding to this global pandemic? We appear to have been madly preoccupied with passing Bill 10 at all costs, including offering pieces of silver to unprincipled opposition politicians to support the Bill and help achieve the two-thirds majority required to pass a constitutional bill. The Coronavirus is a national emergency and should receive 100 per cent attention by our government,” he said.

Mwaanga said protection of citizens from the pandemic was an overwhelming priority.

He said building capacity for testing people for coronavirus was extremely important.

Mwaanga said public education about the virus on radios and television stations was vital.

“The frustrating thing for scientists is that they have not yet found a cure for this virus and tests are still going on. There is no definitively proven scientific evidence as to when this pandemic is going to end. Washing our hands regularly with soap is something even villagers will understand. Contrary to earlier assertions by doctors and other medical professionals that younger people were less susceptible to the coronavirus, this assertion has now been discredited by more updated statistics, which clearly show that younger people are just as vulnerable as older ones,” said Mwaanga.

“In times like this, great nations put their political and petty differences aside, put the country first and unite in search of possible solutions. Bill 10 is a very divisive and toxic piece of legislation, which should be put aside for now and subjected to greater consultations with all major shareholders.”

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