Let us not forget that today, Thursday, October 29, 2020, is a very unlikely day in the history of our country for a specific reason. As we look around us, any open minded and well-meaning Zambian can reach a conclusion that our country is under siege. The leadership of President Edgar Lungu and the Patriotic Front has become a source of great concern for most of our people not only because of its incompetence in managing the affairs of the nation but because of its intolerance for opposing views. Therefore, of late we have witnessed unfortunate events such as the incarceration of opposition political leaders, police brutality, corruption etc. However, we have to be absolutely careful as citizens to never get overwhelmed in the face of these hardships and above all we should not despair or be distracted from focusing on relevant and pressing issues of our time. The struggle for human dignity is not an easy one, there are and always will be many obstacles along the way. But we would be failing in our duty to make mention and help our people connect the dots between the most recent and well calculated events of political persecution of political leaders and the scheduled debate in Parliament on Bill 10. It is an open secret that this regime has caused unprecedented incidents to occur lately be it in the courts of law or with the police in an attempt to distract our people and make them lose focus because there is something important which is about to take place today before our very own eyes; something which is of much more significant to our survival as a Republic and as a democratic state. Today is certainly a crucial day for our democracy as we watch Parliament vote on the constitutional amendment Bill 10 of 2019.
The PF government has proved to us that they cannot be trusted when it comes to Bill 10, late alone with anything really because they have told us nothing but lies after lies since this whole discussion of amending the constitution started. To have the full trust and support of the people in any democracy is the greatest honor that any government should be proud of and guard jealously. Unfortunately, the PF government cannot boast of having the trust and confidence of the people at all and this lack of support will be demonstrated today as Bill 10 will be defeated on the floor of the house. To all the elected member of parliament, we wish to remind them that they should make no mistake about the seriousness of what is about to take place or unfold today in Parliament because there will be severe consequences for generations to come. If not properly handled, the business on the floor of the house will change the face of our politics not just for now but for many years to come. This is why we believe that bill 10 puts the constitution of this Republic hanging in the balance and only real patriotic Zambians who are current MPs and mean well can save us from this gloomy predicament. Regardless of which party you belong to, we say to those who love this country and are true representatives of our people as members of parliament, please “defeat Bill 10, vote against it and save our constitution.” Surely, we have a lot to learn from the brave men and women of the MMD era who were cabinet minister in the Chiluba government; these men and women risked their own positions to go against the wishes of their boss in defense of the constitution and the Republic during the third term bid for Dr Chiluba. I would not be surprised to see that some PF members of parliament, including independents who are men and women of conscious, vote against Bill 10 because Zambians are generally people of immense character who often summon the spirit of courage at the very last minute when called upon to do so. This is a defining moment for all our members of parliament, both in the ruling party as well as the opposition and we ask them to do the right thing and be mindful of the people they represent.
If anything is just and true, there is no need for anyone to create lies about that very thing for them to gain support and sympathy. The fact that the PF government through Ministry of Justice has been lying to the Zambian people that Bill 10 has provision in it called the mixed member representation which will ensure that there are more women represented in Parliament as well as more representation of the disable in Parliament when in fact the bill does not explicitly define mixed member representation is problematic. To pick one term or phrase in the bill and use it to willingly mislead people is very unfortunate. The Minister of Justice Given Lubinda has had to walk back on many statements he has issued on this bill since he started being used by the President to push for this agenda. It is very shameful to witness how a man I personally held in high esteem, such as Honorable Lubinda, can turn out to be a blatant liar just to keep his job. The PF government claims that this bill will not fundamentally change the constitution of our country but only seeks to improve upon it. If that is the case, then why is the government in such a rush to get this bill tabled in Parliament and get it passed as soon as possible? Well, the obvious answer to this question is simply that; if passed, this bill will give president Lungu a loophole in the constitution for him to run for the third time in a presidential election. Therefore, we make no apologies to anyone that if it was wrong and unconstitutional for Dr. Chiluba to be on the ballot for the third time in 2001 as a candidate for president then it is still wrong for President Edgar Lungu to be on the ballot for the third time next year in 2021 as a presidential candidate. We cannot afford to change the entire constitution for the sake of one man. We are not like that as Zambians and we know we can do better. This country is much bigger than President Lungu, and so we plead with our members of parliament to do the right thing for the country today and forget about the self-ambitions of one man.
There is no doubt that there are many provisions in this bill that are problematic, and just a few that seem to be somewhat appealing. Our message to the government and people of Zambia is very clear; we cannot pass a bill which we know from the onset has so many flaws and somehow hope that we will deal with such issues at a later stage. That would be the highest order of irresponsibility on our part if we are to do such a thing, hence we need to completely kill this bill and start all over again if needs be. We have a duty to our people and to our country. Collectively we all need to stand up and save our constitution and save the Republic from those who seek to hijack our much-earned democracy.