By Sycorax Tiyesa Ndhlovu

Learning that 58 United Party for National Development (UPND)’s members of Parliament (MPs) boycotted  the first opening of the 12th National Assembly casts doubts on whether our new UPND’s MPs are serious with representing their electorate effectively or not. Such a worry comes in the wake that in the past, majority MPs, including those in UPND were reported not to be visiting their constituencies regularly; thereby creating a political representation gap between community development needs and National Assembly debates. Such a political representation gap is proved by the current high unemployment and high poverty levels among many Zambians where it’s reported that about 76 per cent of Zambia’s population of about 15million people are in poverty while about 80 per cent of rural people are in abject poverty. And when MPs start absconding themselves from National Assembly sessions, one wonders how effective our new MPs will be in representing their respective constituencies; whether such conduct will improve the living standards of majority Zambians or not. Coming from political campaign’s and election’s time, are such MPs telling us that this is what they promised their electorate in Southern, Western and North-western provinces on how to represent them effectively in the next five years? Southern, Western and North-western provinces where majority of UPND’s MPs come from are among Zambia’s regions facing high unemployment and high poverty levels due to inadequate and low quality socio-economic infrastructure development projects and shortage of and poor public service delivery. Additionally, almost every year, majority citizens in these regions require relief food. Therefore, like in other provinces of Zambia, most electorate in these regions need effective representation for meaningful sustainable socio-economic development processes to take place. Already, in North-western province, one of the chiefs is asking for clean and safe water and good sanitation in his chiefdom! Because political representatives provide ineffective representative democracy, Zambia is still battling with high unemployment and high poverty levels among its population. Unemployment and high poverty levels are high among youths and women. As a result, during the August 11, 2016 elections, UPND political campaign slogan was ’HH will fix it’. Will UPND’s MPs fix high unemployment and high poverty levels in Southern, Western and North-western provinces through boycotting National Assembly sessions? To prove that this is a UPND’s political strategy against PF government, recently, it was reported that UPND’s ward councilors boycotted a developmental meeting Siavonga district commissioner, Lovemore Kanyama called upon to discuss how to effectively use Constituency Development Fund (CDF) which was reportedly not serving the desired purpose in the past. It was reported that UPND’s councilors suspected that the stated DC wanted to politically intimidate such councilors to submit to PF partisan demands(Daily Nation: September 25, 2016; page 4). With such negative attitudes towards development fora from UPND’s political representatives, how would UPND’s MPs, ward councillors and those living in such regions feel if government declares that those regions whose political representatives refuse to hold developmental meetings and attend National Assembly sessions shouldn’t be given CDF? As usual, would they say that Patriotic Front (PF) government is dictatorial? However, did UPND’s MPs and councilors voluntarily decide to boycott the first opening of the 12th National Assembly and such development meeting in Siavonga district respectively or that the two top UPND’s leaders, Hakainde Hichilema and his vice president for administration, Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba intimidated such MPs and councilors to boycott such a Parliamentary Session and that meeting respectively as part of their forward with making Zambia ungovernable during PF regime? On well grounded reasons, MPs and ward councilors have rights to boycott National Assembly sessions and council meeting respectively upon following the right procedures. But what genuine reasons did UPND’s MPs and ward councilors have for boycotting the recent opening of Parliament and not attending the stated meeting in Siavonga district? In the past, reports revealed that most of our honourable MPs spent much of their time drinking beer and entertaining some visitors at National Assembly Motel when National Assembly is in session. It has also been seen and reported that some MPs slumber continuously and consecutively during National Assembly sessions. Consequently, there have been complaints from majority Zambians that most Parliamentary debates aren’t inspiring as far as improving the economy and the living standards of majority Zambians are concerned. Little or nothing do electorate harvest from national budget and CDF allocations without effective political representation and debates in democratic institutions. Could such poor political representation be the reasons for high misapplication and misappropriation of funds in most government ministries? It’s from such a background that the Amended Constitution included a clause that for one to qualify to stand as MP, one should at least have a minimum of grade 12 school certificate. But because most MPs didn’t have such qualifications and also because many of such MPs aren’t serious in representing their constituencies, they didn’t read the stated Draft Constitution which had many issues that needed clarification, improvement and corrections as need arose. However, such MPs passed such a Draft Constitution for republican president, Edgar Chagwa Lungu to assent to such a document that needed some improvements before it became the highest law of the land. All the challenges the current Amended Constitution provides stem from our MPs not doing their functions prudently. Therefore, compared to Zambia’s employment, income, poverty levels and the ineffective political representation such MPs offer to the electorate, our MPs are perceived to be receiving (not earning) lucrative monthly salaries with good conditions of service for little or no work done. One commends National Assembly’s chief whip, Hon. Richard Musukwa on his plans to take such UPND MPs’ conduct to Parliamentary disciplinary committee for such a committee to decide what to do with such legislators. However, intelligence reports reveal that UPND has planned to ensure that the first two years or so of PF’s winning the August 11, 2016, Zambia should be ungovernable. Connect this to Mr Hichilema warning Zambians that there will be Armageddon if he loses such elections. True to his words, Zambia experienced unprecedented post-election’s violence; especially in UPND’s stronghold’s areas. Are UPND MPs’ and councilors’ boycotting National Assembly sessions and developmental meetings respectively as part of making Zambia ungovernable in the first two years or so of PF government? Nonetheless, such conduct from our MPs prove that, firstly, Zambian laws; especially those relating to political representation are weak; secondly, that most political representatives receive their incomes from such positions without necessarily working to the benefit of the electorate.  And thirdly, this explains why Zambia remains one of the poor countries amidst many natural and human resources even after more than 50 years of political independence. Therefore, in line with the new justice minister, Given Lubinda’s promise that his ministry would prioritise correction of some challenges in our Amended Constitution, Parliament should also reform some laws or enact news ones relating to the conduct of political representatives in such representative democracy’s institutions and those relating to their performance in respective constituencies for such political representatives to represent their electorate effectively. For instance, if a political representative or a group of such political representatives absconds from a council meeting or a National Assembly session without convincing reasons, respective local authority or the Parliamentary disciplinary committee should recommend to the relevant democratic institution to have a seat(s) for such a councilor (s) or MP(s) declared vacant; and fresh elections be conducted. Inclusion of a clause that a councilor or an MP whose seat is declared vacant for such reasons shouldn’t stand for such a position in the next ten (10) years; and a clause of constituency members having a right to pass a vote of no confidence in political representatives who don’t represent their electorate effectively would enhance effective representative democracy in Zambia. But to pass such pieces of legislation requires councilors and MPs who serve public interest in such democratic institutions. This implies that if in every election, electorate elects political representatives who stand for such positions to serve their personal, political party’s or regional selfish interests, such progressive pieces of legislation wouldn’t be enacted. Therefore, Zambia needs laws which can facilitate effective political representation of electorate. Cell: 0977/0967 450151 E-mail:













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