[By Melvin Chisanga]
The week leading to the reintroduction of Bill 10 to Parliament by Minister of Justice Given Lubinda saw the PF engage in various tactics to try and garner support for the bill from the opposition UPND.
In some instances, the PF were heard making naive assurances, like a man trying to coax a woman to get into a room, promising not to lay a finger on her, when the evidence of what happened the last time they had found themselves in a similar situation, is barely learning how to sit. On the other hand, like Philistines challenging Israelites to a showdown of ideas in the valley of decisions, others could be heard prodding and daring opposition MPs to show up for the debate if they were worth their salt.
Amid all these efforts to prod the UPND to have a change of heart about their position on Bill10, the UPND MPs remained as true to their resolve to defend the Zambian constitution, as the needle of the compass is to the North Pole. They remained unfazed, even by the scorn that the PF took turns to pour on them when they maintained their walking out of Parliament strategy to express their disagreement with Bill10.
Having failed to titillate the UPND to engage them in a tussle of wits, the PF had the entire house to themselves, with the three rebels from UPND and others, who had not been patriotic enough to resist the bait. Be that as it may have been, the total number that was made after the headcount was still a couple of persons shy of their target. To give themselves more time to bolster their ranks further, they adjourned their slurred debate to Wednesday.
This gave them Tuesday night to engage in what they know best; clandestine activities. Like evil spirits searching for a new home, they broke the night hovering on opposition members’ heads. To their shock, it was time for them to learn that we still have a few good men and women in this country, as efforts to buy even those they could have marked as hungry, proved futile.
While the PF were busy flaunting their loot before opposition MPs, the UPND had other plans. Realising how weak the human heart may get in as far resisting big cash temptation is concerned, the UPND think-tank saw it wise to ring-fence and ascertain the outcome of the Bill 10 by devising a legal strategy that would turn the excitement mood in the PF camp somber. With one of their members hatching the move, one of their MPs executed it by stepping up to the plate to assume the role of David against the Philistines in the Bible.
It only took one point of order to decimate the plans of the PF in the wee moments of the afternoon debate, for which the PF had armed themselves to the teeth, relegating Bill10 to mere wishful thinking of its proponents and annulling all the forward contracts that could have been entered into by those that had offered themselves to be bought like commodities in the market place.
Whenever he bellows in the August House, which he does quite often, his unmistakably unique roll reverberates through all the cardinal and ordinal directions of the compass. The tone with which he speaks is as loud as it is clear. While most of the MPs behave like they are muzzled, with the only time you will hear their voices being when they are shouting yeah, yeah, yeah as if in solidarity with some point in someone’s debate, when in the actual sense, they are just seizing opportunity to clear their rusty throats while warming their benches and waiting for tea break, he is almost always on his feet breathing life into the debate on the floor.
In game theory fashion, Dipak responded to the second attempt by the PF to have Bill 10 adopted. Busy celebrating their “purchase” of three renegade UPND MPs, little did the PF know that they were simply falling for political pawns sacrificed in a gambit to expose their bigger piece and they were caught. Whilst they were still contemplating on how they would get another pawn to prolong their stay in the game, Honourable Garry Nkombo checkmated the Speaker with one move that brought a pindrop silence to the entire parliamentary auditorium.
Rising on a point of order shortly after Parliament’s resumption of its Bill 10 business on Wednesday noon , Mr Nkombo did not waste time to unleash a bombshell, which outrightly halted parliamentary business as it sent Honourable Mr Speaker into his sanctum to try and understand what kind of chemical Mr Nkombo had used to “gas” the House. Hon. Garry Nkombo is the David and Bill 10 is the Goliath he has brought tumbling down, with the stone being Dipak Patel’s court appeal and the sling his eloquent speech. What a timely move from Dipak and clinical finish by Nkombo!
In his usual charismatic way of debating and calling for his points of order, Mr Nkombo started by calmly reminding Mr Speaker how his (Mr Nkombo’s) motion to impeach President Lungu, was halted in Parliament on grounds that continuing to debate the motion would amount to subjudice as the matter was in court, before asking him if he was aware that he was actually contradicting himself by presiding over the Bill 10 debate, as one of the clauses in the bill was equally a matter that had become active in court.
Whether Mr Speaker was privy to this anomaly, but just ignoring it on purpose, or not, cannot easily be established, but one thing that is very clear from Mr Dipak Patel’s case in court, judging from the Speaker’s failure to rule on it within the four hours he had given himself to study its bearing on Bill 10, is that it is a sucker punch to all the proponents of Bill 10 that spelt nothing but more doom for their already ill-fated amendment Bill.
It is interesting how, at the time that most of us could not realise the powers that the constitution of the Republic of Zambia confers on us by mere virtue of us being citizens, one informed citizen demonstrated how everyone and anyone can equally stand up and have a say on what politicians mistakenly think is their preserve to determine.
We need to stop being gullible, oblivious and indifferent to national issues. Let us read the constitution and refuse this second-class citizenship status that we seem to be getting comfortable with, by realising our true worth, shall we? We need to come to a point where we shall reassign the servitude status to our politicians, which they seem to have abandoned long time ago all because we allowed them to swap titles with us because of our submissive gene that we as Zambians have struggled with through our generations.
Bootlicking seems to be our generational curse we have failed to exorcise as a people.
Back to the Bill 10 issue, the PF MPs have been heard on different forums blaming their UPND counterparts for walking out of Parliament instead of staying so that they could engage one another on issues that they did not agree on. From my vantage point, I do not think so. Listening to them taking turns to talk in what they called the Bill 10 debate, I wondered what the PF would open their mouths to talk about if there was no HH and UPND. As they passed on the microphone from one to another, what was supposed to be a Bill10 debate mutated into a UPND-this-UPND-that debate. They failed to seize the opportunity to score points pertaining to this issue even without anyone to oppose them. All they did was to take turns exposing their obsession with the UPND, shame.
In their usual style of not conceding defeat even where it is glaringly clear, the PF had to come up with an excuse to attribute the second fall of Bill 10 to, as a way of managing the damage that Mr Patel’s petition had inflicted, to the bill. Recounting the events that had led to the House taking a four-hour break, Mr Speaker was quick to bring the issue of the Covid 19 case, much to the relief of the PF who had now found an excuse to attribute the postponement of Bill 10, when earlier he had chosen to ignore the point of order from Hon. Mwiimbu over the same.
One more thing noteworthy about the desperation of the PF to pass Bill 10 is how they sought to partner with the disabled by sponsoring them to go and intercede for the success of Bill 10 from HH’s house, even as they (the PF) engage in further underhand methods to champion their evil cause. Really? To my disabled folks, what has HH done to you for you to want to invade his privacy in that manner? Why did you not protest when the PF stole your social cash transfer funds? With this case still in court, you can see for yourselves how dead to compassion the PF are to take advantage of you just like that. Embarrassingly shameful!
With both the Bill 10 and impeachment court appeals active in court, we are eager to see how quickly the two will be handled because seeing how long the impeachment case has been standing in court, it is just logical that it takes precedence over the Bill 10 one. Let us wait and see.