There was drama at Parliament yesterday when the session was abruptly adjourned because Opposition members disrupted proceedings to protest Government failure to provide a clear roadmap towards the constitution making process.
The Members have now vowed to continue pressuring the Speaker as Head of the legislature to prevail of the Executive to provide a roadmap, preferably with a legal framework to protect both content and process.
They have also dared President Sata to dissolve Parliament for the Patriotic Front to seek a fresh mandate over its Governance record.
“We are not going to allow the continued mockery and deliberate distortion of the constitution making process and if the President feels up to it let him dissolve Parliament and call for fresh election.” An MP said.
This follows a ministerial statement by Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba which opposition MPs described as “waffling and a sheer waste their time” because he did not present anything new neither did he respond to public demands for a constitutional roadmap protected by legislation.
Rising on a point of clarification Mazabuka MP Garry Nkombo appealed to the Speaker as Head of the legislature to demand for a roadmap. This was in apparent reference to article 51 of the constitution which states that Cabinet which includes the President and his Ministers are collectively answerable to the National Assembly.
The article reads” The Cabinet and Deputy Ministers shall be accountable collectively to the National Assembly”
Soon after his point, opposition members stood up in unison and remained standing shouting down any further attempt by the speaker to introduce new business. They persistently chanted “Constitution constitution’ as Kabimba tried to table another motion on the floor.
At this stage the speaker suspended business and later adjourned the house.
Speaking after the adjournment opposition members insisted that they would continue to pressurize the speaker because the need for a new constitution had become more apparent with growing disarray in the Governance system.
The executive, an MP said, continued to display serious impunity by disregarding normal governance procedures, “That is why we have decided act decisively.” He said.
And the Zambian Voice executive director Chilufya Tayali has commended the opposition parliamentarians for their bravery against government’s disorderliness by their failure to deliver to the people their constitution.
Tayali said the PF government should not provoking Zambians as they did the opposition MPs in the House because that would result in larger public demonstrations for the immediate release of the constitution.
“What we saw in Parliament can also be done by the people because of the disorderliness of this government on its failure to deliver a new constitution. It’s not the MPs who were disorderly, but the government that forced the Speaker to suspend business in the House,” he said.
The Catholic Church through its Jesuits Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has demanded that President Sata gives Zambians a people-driven constitution because it will serve their desire and aspirations.
The new constitution will also help to protect the poor from exploitative rich people who wanted to grab everything from the poor.
JCTR programmes officer for faith and justice Kizito Chalwe said President Sata was in the forefront calling for a new constitution and even constituted a technical committee to do the job.
“But what has gone wrong with our President that he can shift goals posts on the constitution? The current constitution does not protect the poor from exploitative rich people who use their positions to grab everything from the poor, “said Chalwe.
And Forum for Democratic Process (FODEP) executive director Mc Donald Chipenzi said that the reaction by the MPs on the constitution was a positive move the legislatures could have done because they were dealing with a government that was reluctant to listen to the cries of people.
Chipenzi explained that parliament was one of the arms of the government, and therefore the PF government must wake up and realise that all was not well.
He said that the CSOs would not relent on its calls for Zambia to have a people driven constitution, adding that they were ready to take what it takes for the best interest of the nation.
Chipenzi said that the PF government was taking Zambians for granted because of its arrogance towards the people who put it in power and hoped the MPs won’t stop standing for the people.
Last month, Chipenzi had demanded MPs to stand for the people in the House on the issue on Constitution because they were their ambassadors.