OPPOSITION Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) have backed the Constitution Amendment Bill of 2015 which was presented to Parliament last month by Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula.
Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights, Gender Matters and Child Affairs, both MMD and FDD submitted in favour of the 50+1 clause and the presidential running mate clause in the Constitution Bill.
FDD administration secretary George Phiri said the party was in support of the 50+1 and the Presidential running mate clause contained in the draft.
Mr Phiri said FDD had observed that most of the articles contained in the document were progressive and appealed to parliamentarians to support the Bill in order for the clauses to see the light of day.
“The Zambian people have for a long time petitioned that a presidential candidate must garner 50-plus-one percent of the vote for him or her to be declared winner while he or she must have a running mate,” Mr Phiri said.
He appealed to the committee to ensure that the 50+1 and the Presidential running mate clauses see the light of day like many other progressive articles proposed.
“FDD also welcomes the provision that will allow ministers to be appointed from outside Parliament. This will help promote professionalism in the principal advisors to the Head of State,” Mr Phiri said.
He added that ministers appointed outside Parliament will understand their role of policy formulation as opposed to political patronage.
“The ratification of the appointees by the National Assembly will also strengthen the oversight role of the House. We hope that the current members of Parliament who are ministers will not throw this out in order to maintain the status quo,” he said.
And MMD spokesperson Raphael Nakachinda said although the party had always been against the 50+1 clause this time around the party was in support.
“We recommend that the proposal in the Draft Constitution to elect a Presidential candidate on a basis of majoritarian system where a winning candidate must receive not less than 50%+1 vote be accepted,” Mr Nakachinda said.
He said the 50%+1 proposal appeared to be supported by many, although MMD had opposed it in the past.
“We recommend that this clause be supported as it appears to be more broadly accepted by the people of Zambia and other key stakeholders,” Mr Nakachinda said.
He, however, opposed the idea of appointing provincial ministers from outside Parliament, saying there was no compelling reason for abandoning the current system of having deputy ministers.
Meanwhile, Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general Davies Chama said the party decided not to make submissions because its Government had already tabled the Bills in Parliament.
“We called Parliament and said since we have introduced the Bill we cannot as a party make any submissions because the Bill speaks for itself,” Mr Chama said.
Mr Chama said PF was the Government and would not want to make submissions that would contradict the Bill.
He said PF has left the Bill in the hands of parliamentarians to debate it.
“Let the parliamentarians debate it because if we make submissions it will seem as if we are influencing the outcome of the process,” Mr Chama said.