THERE was drama at Parliament yesterday when Mufumbwe Member of Parliament Stephen Masumba challenged Law Association of Zambia president George Chisanga who claimed that the Constitution Amendment Bill process being heard by the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs was illegal and a waste of time.
Mr Masumba was incensed after Mr Chisanga described as illegal the Constitution Amendment Bill process being heard by the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs and appealed to the chairperson of the committee, Cornelius Mweetwa, to stop the proceedings.
This submission angered the former deputy minister of Youth and Sport who described the LAZ president’s submission as disappointing and provocative.
Mr Chisanga had earlier said although the association decided to appear before the committee, LAZ was not in support of the process, arguing that the process was undemocratic and did not represent the will of Zambians.
He told Mr Mweetwa that the committee should immediately stop the process as it was illegal.
But a visibly angry Mr Masumba said he was disappointed with the behaviour exhibited by LAZ during their submissions.
“The submission by LAZ is quite compelling and to some extent very provocative. This committee which is here is just another arm of Government. We have three arms of Government. “I become very disappointed to hear that what we are discussing here is more partisan. Why should you drag the issues that are supposed to be discussed as professionals, you come and dilute them into politics?” Mr Masumba said.
He told LAZ that they should not have decided to talk about partisan politics in their presentation.
But Mr Chisanga said the process must be stopped because it would not reflect the will of the people.
“As LAZ, our humble but highly considered view is that the most adequate, legitimate and democratic means of consulting the people of Zambia is through holding a national referendum which the Government has failed or neglected to do before deciding to table the Bill before the National Assembly,” he said.
Mr Chisanga told the committee that any consultations hitherto done by the Government of various stakeholder groups was not sufficient to satisfy the requirement for consulting the people of Zambia.
Mr Chisanga said Government had created a legitimate expectation that a national referendum could be called to allow the people of Zambia to adopt the final draft by the committee appointed because PF was elected on a campaign promise that they would give the people of Zambia a people-driven Constitution.
He said LAZ was of the view that in the absence of any public policy justification for not consulting the people of Zambia through a national referendum then the Bill should not be passed by the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) has backed the 50% plus One clause which is contained in the Draft Constitution.
EAZ founder member Chiselebwe Ng’andwe said the proposed 50 percent plus One clause was justified.
He said it gave the electorate the satisfaction that the elected President enjoyed the support of the majority of those that cared to vote.
“There is no question about the value of 50%+1 to the democratic ideals. However, when this entails a run-off presidential election within 90 days after the general election, we should carefully compare the cost of a run-off to the perceived benefit of the run-off election,” Dr Ng’andwe said.