Nevers Mumba Press Briefing 11th December 2015
Members of the Media Fraternity; MMD National Secretary; MMD Members of Parliament present; Members of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy; Our Party supporters; Ladies and Gentlemen.
On this very momentous occasion, a day after a very historic event in the history of our nation, I wish to sincerely congratulate all MMD Members of Parliament for having stayed the course, fighting off fatigue and sleep, staying awake through the night to work and ensure that the process which finally resulted in the delivery of key progressive Constitutional clauses as demanded by the people of Zambia, were finally delivered.
The history of this outcome starts from the failed 90 day promises of the Patriotic Front government. When it became clear to all Zambians that the promise to deliver the constitution in 90 days was an open lie to hood-wink voters, the MMD and other civil society organizations began to demand for a road map of realizing the national dream of the constitution.
PF had no intentions to give the Zambian people a new constitution. We therefore salute the efforts of opposition political parties, the Grand Coalition and many Zambians who have consistently applied pressure on the PF to deliver the constitution.
The outcome of today has been due to the sustained pressure placed on the PF to at least give us clauses which would assist us in ensuring that the next election is conducted in an atmosphere of expanded liberties. MMD has supported this route by using common-sense that if we did not support it, we would not have attained the victory of the 50%+1 and Running Mate clauses. This is only the first step towards getting all that Zambians have been demanding over the years.
MMD understood that going the way of a census and a referendum, which was going to require the participation of at least 50% of eligible voters was not going to be attainable in the time available before the 2016 elections. This has been our party position and I am proud of all those MMD MPs who struggled hard and long to grab these clauses out of the clenched fist of the PF.
We, the MMD, as initiators of the process through the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) under the Levy Mwanawasa presidency, our dear late President who coined the now popular phrase that “We shall not govern our country according to laws of men, but according to the rule of Law” are extremely delighted that the end of this very long journey is now in sight.
By what transpired in Parliament yesterday and into this morning, our gallant lawmakers have fulfilled the old-age adage which says, ‘Half a loaf of Bread is better than nothing.’ This indeed was why we, the MMD, opted and promoted the ‘piece-meal’ approach to the Constitution-making process as opposed to what we believe would have been a longer, more difficult and expensive Referendum route which offered no guarantees of success and was at risk of having the entire process abandoned with nothing achieved.
We are therefore delighted that as a party, we have remained focused and consistent and provided strong leadership, direction and a sense of clear purpose in making history to enact clauses that Zambians have looked forward to over a very long period of time.
We are happy to have been part of the historical effort to realize and fulfill the Zambian dream of having the 50%+1 clause which will now avoid putting a minority president to rule over the majority. To have the Presidential running mate clause which will avoid wastage of resources when an incumbent Head of State becomes incapacitated and unable to effectively execute presidential duties or indeed dies in office. This new clause will provide for a seamless, cost-effective and swift transfer of power to the running mate without the heavy expense of a presidential by-election as has happened in our country before.
Ladies and gentlemen, millions of Zambians are currently living in the diaspora and have acquired new nationalities, but trapped there, unable to fully enjoy the privileges and rights of their natural heritage as Zambians. With the enactment of the clause on Dual citizenship, a door has now been swung wide open for them to come home without cumbersome immigration complications and procedures.
Zambia has finally joined the many progressive countries who have this clause in place which allows their nationals the right and liberty to enjoy full privileges and ability to invest back home. Key among the Clauses that were close to our hearts as MMD are as follows:
1. 50%+1 electoral system which ensures that we shall now have a majority president unlike the overturned system where a candidate could become president even with 10% of the vote as long as he or she had the highest vote.
2. Presidential Running Mate Clause to prevent a by-election in case the sitting president is no longer able to continue in office.
3. Dual Citizenship for Zambians to make it easier for Zambians with foreign passports in the diaspora invest back home.
4. Strengthening of the Auditor General’s office to effect prosecutions of erring civil servants.
5. Mandatory national Debt contraction through parliament to prevent the current situation where Cabinet can just borrow anyhow and leave future generations in perpetual debt.
6. The Supplementary Appropriation Act to prevent spending money that has not been pre-approved by parliament.
7. Preventing Parliamentary defections and crossing the floor in an effort to bring order to the House and eliminate costly, unnecessary by-elections.
With the 2016 General Elections just a few months away, we the MMD sounded our intention to support these progressive and straight-forward Clauses as espoused during the Presidential debate just prior to the January 2015 Presidential election. We were of the view then and now that these clauses were of paramount importance since they directly hinged on elections and therefore important inclusions for us as a country going forward.
With all these positive indications said about the process, we are however not blind to the fact that there were heated and tense moments during the debate, occasionally drawing strong and sharp exchanges on the floor of the House, particularly during the debate on the Provincial Assemblies and the Proportional Representation voting system which have been set aside for now. This is positive for the advancement of democracy.
The comfort we would like to bring to the people of Zambia, is that all is not lost in fact a lot has been gained. If we remain as focused, single-minded and resolute as we have been during the just ended process, there is no doubt that every clause that the Zambians want will eventually be enacted into Law in due course.
Finally countrymen, my sincere desire is that no side should feel vanquished and the other side as winners. The real winners in this entire process are the people of Zambia whom we all aspire to serve selflessly.
As a nation, let us now forge ahead as one people as we look to scoring greater achievements and successes for the betterment of the lives of our people.
I thank you
Nevers Sekwila Mumba