Patriotic Front chairperson for the Legal Committee Brian Mundubile says “there is no chance at all” to have the Constitution Amendment Bill withdrawn from Parliament as sittings to deliberate on its provisions will begin on September 2, 2019.
And Mundibile, who is also Northern Province minister, has emphasised that the National Dialogue Forum reached a consensus on the proposed amendments to the laws whose bills were presented in Parliament.
Speaking on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Mundubile said most of those who have called for the withdrawal of the Bill have not given adequate reasons for their arguments.
“There is a general perception that people are speaking against the NDF. People and organisations may be motivated differently. It can’t be that straightforward because if you look at some of the arguments out there, maybe in their opening remarks they will say that this bill must be withdrawn and when you wait for the reasons, the statements are not backed by any reason. If you are objecting to five amendments, why should the bill be withdrawn?” Mundubile wondered.
But when host Grevazio Zulu asked if there was a possibility that the Bill can be withdrawn from Parliament, Mundubile said that would not happen.
“There is no chance at all! The process is moving. The Bill has been referred to the [parliamentary select] committee and they will start sitting on the 2nd of September. That is yet another window. Even at that committee, remember there will be a report that will come out of the committee; that will be very persuasive and an important document,” he said. “The report that will be tabled in Parliament, so assuming that out of 100 witnesses, 99 come out very strongly against deputy ministers, everybody that will be listening to that report will be persuaded because quiet clearly, MPs are waiting for that report, they want to hear that report. Apart from the NDF, there is a window, which is part of the process and that window is the [parliamentary select] Committee. My advice is that as opposed to paying for expensive TV and Radio programmes in the country, in Mpulungu in Luapula, the committee will soon start sitting so assemble your submissions. We want to hear from you.”
And Mundubile said the NDF was an all-inclusive forum that collectively agreed on proposals made as contained in the Bills.
“I keep repeating that when you look at the composition in section five of the NDF Act, you will realise that you will have an all-inclusive forum involving civil servants, involving the Judiciary, the legislature, the Church and political parties. Some of the groups you are referring to are maybe just from one category. All those attended the forum and yes can we look at the alternative forum, who is going to be at that forum? The answer lies in there! When you talk about consensus, the moment you take the people that attended the forum aside and ask for an alternative forum, you will then realise that indeed the group at NDF had consensus,” he said.
Mundubile recalled that the Law Association of Zambia was represented at the NDF and wondered why they were not rejecting some amendments to the Constitution.
“And now LAZ rejected five out of 200 amendments. What is the meaning of that? Is that to say that the 195 amendments have been agreed to? That is the question they can answer. The fact that people have picked out one, two, three, four, five [amendments] and objected to them doesn’t mean that they have objected to the entire document that came out of the NDF. There is difference when you have the same group of people going from one province to the other; you cannot say the people of Zambia have rejected the Bill. It is the same voices in Luapula and Western provinces; you see them on TV. If it is not, for instance, Prime TV giving coverage to these people, who else is talking about them? Let’s us warn ourselves, let us be very cautious because there will be an impression that the Zambian people have risen against this NDF when it is the same group of people that are jotting from province to province,” he said.
Mundubile said even the PF has disagreed with certain amendments to the Constiution such as the reintroduction of deputy ministers.
“…we did not agree on everything but we were driven by the principles of consensus. In terms of consensus, you cannot be rigid just because we did not agree with something. When we went to plenary, we broke into four committees and we discussed and came up with resolutions and these were brought to plenary for the final adoption and a number of positions changed when we were there,” said Mundubile. “You must also understand that looking at the…Siavonga resolutions, submissions from the Church, it was discovered that there were certain clauses, certain articles in the Constitution that were not captured by the three documents but yet needed refinement or amendment. The forum, by section 4, had the power to add, subtract or amend. It was a very transparent process that was full of dialogue,” said Mundubile.