Friday, 7 March 2014

Updates On The Constitution From Parliament

By Paul Shalala

Today's Vice President's Question Time was the last one in this sitting of parliament which is expected to adjourn sine die on Tuesday next week.

As part of their protest on the constitution, opposition members of parliament sat quietly and none of them asked a single question to Dr Guy Scott during the 30 minutes long Vice President's Question Time.

Ruling Patriotic Front backbenchers seized the opportunity and turned it into a field day in which they took turns asking questions to Dr Scott.

The opposition members of parliament including independent Lubanshenshi member of parliament Patrick Mucheleka, all sat and kept quiet during the 30 minutes for the Vice President's Question Time.

Dr Scott said holding a referendum in older to adopt the new constitution will be more difficulty and less manageable than holding a general election.

He said in a referendum, the country is supposed to ensure that atleast two thirds of the population vote in the referendum to make the document legitimate.

The Vice President says this is as opposed to a general election where only registered voters are allowed to cast their ballots in an election.

Dr Scott has also assured the nation that government will not allow any sectors of society to hijack the constitution making process.

He said the ruling Patriotic Front has enough numbers in parliament to ensure that the new constitution is enacted in an orderly manner.

The Vice President said this in response to several questions posed by Patriotic Front backbenchers who posed several questions on the constitution.

Meanwhile, Dr Scott has revealed that Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba has been cleared by the Judge Evans Hamaundu-led tribunal.

Dr Scott says as far as he is aware, Mr Kabimba was cleared of all allegations leveled against him.

The Vice President revealed this in Parliament this morning in response to Lupososhi member of parliament Bwalya Chungu who wanted to know the results of the Judge Hamaundu Tribunal.

Human rights activist Brebner Changala and former Solwezi central member of parliament Lucky Mulusa petitioned Acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda to set up a tribunal to probe the Justice Minister.

The two alleged that Mr Kabimba abused his office when he allegedly used a government legal opinion offered to him in his capacity as Minister of Justice by the Solicitor General Musa Mwenye to allegedly pursue a private agenda of the ruling Patriotic Front and subsequently by a private litigant.

Mazabuka Central member of Parliament Garry Nkombo this morning moved a motion to urge government to provide a roadmap for the enactment of the new constitution.

In moving the motion, Mr Nkombo said his move was non confrontational as it was aimed at highlighting the commitment by the Patriotic Front to the constitution.

He said with the completion of the work by the Technical Committee on Drafting the Republican Constitution, there was need for government to guide the nation on the way forward.

The motion was seconded by Chembe member of parliament Mwansa Mbulakulima who said the new constitution must be able to improve governance in the country.

Meanwhile, opposition members of parliament who earlier this week avoided asking questions for oral answers, today resumed their normal duties.

UPND Mwinilunga member of parliament Stephen Katuka and his Solwezi West MMD counterpart Humphrey Mwanza today posed their questions.

UPND Katuba member of parliament Jonas Shakafuswa and his Kabompo West counterpart Ambrose Lufuma also asked follow up questions.

And contributing to the debate, Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba said government had a clear roadmap which will deliver a people driven constitution.

Mr Kabimba's sentiments were echoed by Lupososhi member of parliament Bwalya Chungu who said all lawmakers must partner with government to produce a people driven constitution.

However, Mr Chungu could not finish debating the motion as parliament was adjourned at 12:55.

The Lupososhi lawmaker is expected to wind up his debate on Tuesday before the house votes whether to adopt or reject the motion.

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