PF and Edgar Lungu want to mess up the Constitution for their own benefit, Charles Milupi has charged. Milupi, the Alliance for Democracy and Development (ADD) president and Opposition Alliance chairman, said the National Dialogue Constitutional Electoral process public order and political parties bill was meant to circumvent the dialogue process for consensus building. Milupi said the bill of 2019, which the Ministry of Justice had taken to Parliament, was a disaster meant to perpetuate the PF to power so that they can continue looting. He said with the many problems at the hands of the PF government, they were keen to mess up the Constitution.
"The PF and Mr Lungu want to mess up the Constitution of this country for their own benefit. They know what is happening countrywide because of their failures. The crisis where this country has run out of money, we can go into details on that. Suffice to say there is a crisis already manifesting itself in salaries being delayed, hospitals not having medicines and so many other issues," he said.
Milupi further said with the country running out of money, the government's main focus was to collect as much money as it can for debt servicing. He added that civil servants and other workers who are not getting their monthly emoluments should know that the government was preoccupied with servicing debt and any amount collected is being prioritised to that effect.
"The main focus of this government now is on a monthly basis to collect money to service the debt. Traditionally our budget has had the highest component being the education sector but for the first time ever, we see that the biggest component in this year's budget announced by [finance] minister [Margaret] Mwanakatwe is debt serving. The figures are quite specific, what should be highest is the education sector. Its budget is 13 billion but serving debt which is mainly just interest because the principal on the Euro-bond are not yet due until the first one in 2022. The serving of just over debt is 24 billion…whatever anybody says, whether it's Dora Siliya saying 'well there is turbulence but it manageable', it's not manageable on a monthly basis. They are now collecting money from all over the place to service debt because they know that if they fail to service one debt, the rest of the debtors will call their debt…. So those that are not getting paid must know this," Milupi said.
He added that the scheme on the national Dialogue Constitutional Electoral process public order and political parties bill was change the Constitution so that they could appoint public workers who would toe the line.
"In order to perpetuate themselves in power so that they can continue the looting, they now have to mess up the Constitution. Clearly if we go to the national dialogue led by the Church Mother bodies, they will not be able to bulldoze what they want because we shall reach consensus after debating issues and so on. They can't take this matter to Parliament directly because in spite of what they have tried to do, to create by-elections, to try to buy of members of the opposition who are members of parliament, they have failed to reach the two-thirds threshold required to change the Constitution," Milupi said.
"So having failed on that score, this is a trick. All they are doing now is creating this forum and creating the legal basis through this bill for this forum so that they appoint these people and the majority will be public workers who will be fearful of their job and therefore toe the line. There will be civil servant members of this commission, members of defence forces and so on who will go there. Ultimately, Mr Lungu, as President, in this bill will be the one responsible to choose the chair of this forum."
Milupi said bill was passed would compel opposition lawmakers to attend sittings owing to certain clauses in it.
"In addition to picking up all these public workers, there are clauses within this bill that stipulate that members of parliament have to attend and anybody who is supposed to attend and does not attend is guilty of an offence and therefore liable to a prison sentence of one year minimum and maximum three years. It's all in this bill, against the bill of rights. The idea there is to make sure that the opposition members of parliament are forced by this law when it's enacted to attend. And if you read further, this will then be able to develop the laws or bills the items like the constitutional amendment bill, the electoral process, in spite of putting it there they are already doing it, the public order Act and political party Act," Milupi said.
He said the 'fraudulent process' would tie down members of parliament who do not believe in it so that they go and vote for it when it goes for enactment in Parliament.
"It then further says this forum will develop this bill…now having done that this bill will then be handed over to specific ministers who are responsible for those areas and in this case it's the Minister of Justice who would be responsible for the Constitution, the amendment bill for the political party bill. And then we have the public order Act which will then be taken to [home affairs] minister [Stephen] Kampyongo. We know what's going to happen with those two, they are now going to look at it – in case their forum has left out some of the things – and will then put whatever they want then take it to Parliament for enactment either as a Constitution or these Acts," said Milupi, adding, "Now put yourselves in the shoes of members of parliament who are in the opposition and are opposed to this…the law will have forced you to attend and be part and parcel of developing these bills. And now then these bills come to parliament and then you say 'I cannot support'. That's to tie down our members through this fraudulent process, tie down the members of parliament, especially those in UPND and anybody else in PF that don't believe in this so that they can then go and vote for it when it goes for enactment in Parliament and therefore achieve the two third majority which they want to have the Constitution. This is a disaster."