Bill 10 back

THE battle lines have been drawn as the National Assembly resumes sitting with the Constitutional Amendment Bill number 10 topping the list.
But is the nation back to square one as the members of Parliament resume their seats after the break – during which they were also supposed to consult and engage .their constituents over Bill 10?
As Parliament reconvenes, what is clear is that the ruling Patriotic Front and the main opposition party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) find themselves at opposite sides of the extreme.
The UPND has already thrown the gauntlet, coming out with guns blazing. “There will be consequences against any of our Members of Parliament (MP) who will go against the party position and vote for Bill 10, UPND spokesperson, Charles Kakoma, warned yesterday.
Mr Kakoma said in an interview yesterday, that the position of the party was that its MPs must vote against Bill 10.
“The correct position of the party is that under the Commonwealth parliamentary practice, when a matter comes up in parliament and the party thinks that they need the support of their MPs, they draw a three-line whip which means that it becomes obligatory for MPs to vote for the party position.”
While the position of the PF is well known, it is the position of the UPND that is of interest because of its stance from the time debate started over amending the constitution.
Although the final product Bill 10 started with UPND participation in the Siavonga Declaration as all the political parties came together to finalise details of a national dialogue, the UPND dropped out along the way.
They even boycotted the National Dialogue Forum when it met finally though some of its Members of Parliament ignored orders not to attend.
What worries most people is that Bill 10 has been trivialised and interpreted to mean that it entails to entrench the PF and President Edgar Lungu in power.
Yet it is actually more embracing than the misgivings being cited. The bill has a lot of positives that Zambians should seriously consider and make decisions from an informed position.
Among other provisions, the object of this Bill is to amend the Constitution of Zambia so as to among other things:-
(a) revise the Preamble in order to reaffirm the Christian character of Zambia;
(b) revise the principles and values of the Constitution;
(c) revise the electoral system for elections to the National Assembly;
(d) revise the period for dissolution of the National Assembly;
(e) revise the period of hearing and determination of a presidential election petition; and
(f) revise the manner of election of mayor and council chairperson.
These are positive ideas that are meant to improve and strengthen governance in the nation.
Zambians will remember for example the tension that prevailed in the nation after the 2016 elections.
That is one of the provisions that the proposed Bill 10 has sought to deal with, revise the period of hearing and determination of a presidential election petition that allows more time for the petitioners to have their case heard.
Zambians should remember that the present constitution has many lacunas which have to be addressed.
The Bill 10 that Mr Lubinda will be presenting to Parliament during this session has more or less gone through the mill to be refined through the Parliamentary Select Committee.
The Committee has in the past few months invited special interest groups as well as experts to make further suggestions and objections. This process has not been closed to anyone serious with making a positive contribution to the country’s stability and future.
This is a chance for the present MPs to rise over petty partisan politics and think of the bigger picture – Zambia.
For ultimately, their responsibility is to give the country a durable constitution that will stand the test of time.


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