By Patson Chilemba
Deputy government chief whip Tutwa Ngulube says the ruling party will count on the NDC vote, plus 12 independents and some UPND members of parliament to pass Bill 10.
And Ngulube said members of parliament do not represent the party but the people who elect them into office.
Speaking with Daily Revelation, Ngulube said the ruling party has enough numbers to pass the contentious Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019, when Parliament resumes sittings on June 09, 2020.
Asked what gave him the confidence as indications showed that the number of members who walked out on Justice minister Given Lubinda, when he presented the bill for second reading and the others who have come out on record to declare their opposition to the bill, showed that the PF did not have the numbers, Ngulube said the ruling party was counting on the vote from National Democratic Congress (NDC) member of parliament Joseph Chishala, plus the 12 independents and other UPND members of parliament.
“If the UPND were not physically restraining their members, pulling them out of the chamber, you saw it was live on tv, UPND members forcing their members out of the chamber, pulling them, dragging them out. Why were they doing that? Because they know the majority of their members support the bill,” Ngulube said, claiming that some members were even assaulted in the process. “Had they not physically or forcibly ejected people from the chamber that day, and had it not been for all those points of order they were trying to raise to try and block the bill from going ahead and the debate from finishing, the bill would have gone through. You saw how they were frantically trying by all means to derail the process, so voting for me is done at the end of the debate.”
Asked if he could confidently back up his claims that they had the NDC vote, Ngulube said: “Yes of course. I think each and every member of parliament represents the people that elect him. No one represents the party that sent him to parliament. So the NDC MP was in order to actually respect the views of the people that sent him there.”
He said 12 of the 14 independents supported the bill, accusing the opposition of being hypocritical in their opposition to the bill.
“We had enough numbers and we still have enough numbers to pass Bill number 10, that’s why you saw people panicking and running to court and everywhere else,” Ngulube said. “The issue here is straight forward people of Zambia want to change the Constitution and in fact the opposition on one hand they say they don’t want a coalition government but you see them trying to do exactly what they don’t want. You find Hakainde trying to work with Kambwili and everybody else. So it’s hypocrisy at its best.”
On observations that the ruling party wanted to amend the Constitution in order to secure President Lungu politically, with the inclusions of provisions such as the one stopping any challenge to a presidential nomination, against the argument that he does not qualify to stand again as he has already been twice sworn into office, Ngulube said the interest was to ensure that the clauses in other subsidiary legislations were incorporated into the Constitution.
“For example now we are talking about electronic voter register, we are talking about all other interventions which might come and after those come it will be very difficult to change the constitution. So they are saying why don’t we relegate these contentious clauses, those that are very fragile,” Ngulube said. “Those that change almost everyday we move them into an Electoral Process Act, (as) there is already an Act of Parliament, the Electoral Process Act which deals with elections from councilor to President. So you find that the Electoral Process Act is saying something else and the Constitution is saying something else.”
He argued that now was the time to fine tune the Constitution as Zambians were already suspicious of any changes to the supreme law.
“Already right now they are busy accusing the government so that’s why we are saying let’s deal with the situation,” said Ngulube.
Bill 10 is aiming to among other things establish a coalition government, where for instance if one candidate gets 45 percent and the other six percent, the two can get into an agreement and form government. The Bill also aims at ensuring that there is no challenge to a presidential nomination, and wants the mayors to be elected by the councillors as opposed to being elected by the people.