[By Chambwa Moonga and Ernest Chanda]
AFTER close to two years of pro and anti-Bill 10 arguments, the matter has been settled, with Parliament shooting down the notorious bill, “thanks” to a walkout from the House, by opposition lawmakers.
During the second reading vote, the PF failed to marshal the 111-threshold required to proceed after registering only 105 votes.
“The results of the poll are as follows: Ayes – 105, Nos – zero, Abstain zero. The question is therefore less than the required threshold and accordingly is negative as less than two-thirds of all members of the Assembly have voted in the affirmative,” said Speaker Patrick Matibini. “Therefore, the Bill falls away.”
Justice minister Given Lubinda claimed those in the PF “are the victors”, in the Bill 10 that failed to garner numbers in Parliament.
Winding up debate, Lubinda started by thanking God for giving the Zambians their representatives gathered in the House yesterday.
“This has been a long journey – a journey that has been associated with a lot of debate,” Lubinda said, adding that some of the debate on Bill 10 was based on purely malice and innuendos.
He said history was being recorded yesterday and that posterity shall read that history.
“We shall be judged by how we handle matters of State. I’m very pleased to have been the shepherd of this process. I’m very satisfied that the Zambian people today have… to this debate,” Lubinda said.
“Unfortunately, they have only listened to one side of the debate. The other side has chosen to remain mute, and silent they shall be forever. The fact that they have refused to speak here, where they were allowed to come and speak on behalf of the 17 million people, they should know that they have lost that opportunity forever.”
The minister thanked those who spoke in support of the Bill 10.
“I want to urge you, let this campaign not end today…Let it go out to the villages, let it go up to mountains of Zambia, let it go in the valleys of this country. Let the people know and understand who came to this House to represent them,” he said. “This debate shall not be a question of numbers but a question of morality, a question of principle. Let those men and women who stand on the basis of principle take the armour of the day.”
Lubinda indicated that those in the PF would continue to soldier on to provide the right of the Zambian people to be represented “here in Parliament”.
“The numbers are no longer significant – we have demonstrated that the men and women on your (the Speaker) right led by Edgar Chagwa Lungu shall be men and women who shall stand for the truth,” said Lubinda.
“Irrespective of the outcome of vote, today we are the victors. On behalf of the PF, I want to say to the Zambian people, thank you for giving us the opportunity to govern…”
Those who debated, all in support of Bill 10, are government chief whip and Mporokoso PF member of parliament Brian Mundubile, Chawama PF member of parliament and chiefs and traditional affairs minister Lawrence Sichalwe, Chembe PF member of parliament Sebastian Kopulande, Chifunabuli PF member of parliament Mecha Ponde, Chitambo PF’s Remember Chanda Mutale, Nkandu Luo (Munali PF) and Yizukanji Siwanzi (Nakonde).
Others are Malambo PF member of parliament and Eastern Province minister Makebi Zulu, Shiwang’andu PF member of parliament and home affairs minister Stephen Kampyongo, Chongwe PF member of parliament and Copperbelt Province minister, Japhen Mwakalombe, Chama South PF member of parliament Davison Mung’andu, Kabwe Central PF member of parliament and deputy chief whip Tutwa Ngulube, Pambashe PF member of parliament and tourism and arts minister Ronald Chitotela, Kapoche PF member of parliament and local government minister Charles Banda, among others.
Meanwhile, Ngulube said whether Bill 10 goes through or not, PF will remain in power.
Ngulube promised to intensify campaigns against the opposition UPND ahead of the general election.
The Kabwe Central PF member of parliament continued blaming the UPND ahead of voting on the motion.
“We have heard a lot of speculation, we have heard a lot of untruths, we’ve heard a lot of stories coming from our colleagues in the UPND, telling the people of Zambia things that are not even contained in the Bill. Mr Speaker, I want to state that this is not about whether the bill will go through or not. This is about what the people of Zambia wanted,” he said. “…but I can assure somebody that even if today they force the bill not to go through, nothing will change. The PF will remain in power, and as far as we are concerned, the fear they have that their person will not be allowed to stand is neither here nor there; because whether he stands or doesn’t stand he will lose again next year.”
Ngulube accused the UPND of abducting some members of parliament so that they could not attend yesterday’s sitting and debate the motion when it came for second reading.
“All those who have actually abducted people, kept them in hiding so that they don’t vote on Bill No. 10, they must ask themselves whether abducting a member of parliament is not as bad as abducting a police officer. We are going out to go and report to the same people that the people who shot the Bill of Rights have again shot Bill No. 10,” he said.
Ngulube said if the bill failed to go through it would give an opportunity for the PF to campaign more against the UPND.
“And as PF and as government, whether Bill No. 10 goes through or does not go through creates an opportunity for us to go and campaign properly in 2021. Then we are going to make sure that we create a platform for someone to get zero votes because a lot of youths who would have come through to this House if Bill No. 10 goes through would have lost,” said Ngulube. “A lot of women who have been crying that their representation is below 50 per cent would have lost, a lot of retirees would have lost. And we are also aware that even the chiefs in their chiefdoms as we go towards 2021 they must remember who has made their situation worse than it is right now.”