Parliament has thrown out a private member’s motion against weekend imprisonment for drunken driving.
The motion which was brought to the House by United Party for National Development Choma Member of Parliament (MP) Cornelius Mweetwa left opposition MPs divided.
Mr Mweetwa wanted leave to introduce a Private Member’s Bill entitled Road Traffic (Amendment ) Bill 2013, which was against weekend imprisonment for drunken driving.
He said Section 160 of the Road Traffic Act provided for weekend imprisonment for a person found with a case of drunken driving, but that the law had not been implemented in Zambia since 2002 when it was introduced.
Mr Mweetwa said implementing the weekend imprisonment law would only fuel corruption in the country as it would encourage people to bribe authorities instead of serving the sentences.He explained that Zambian prisons were already congested and that there were no separate jails that would be set aside for people found guilty of drink-driving.
He called on Government to instead consider punishing drunken drivers with community service and fines.
Mr Mweetwa’s motion was seconded by MMD Nalikwanda MP, Geoffrey Lungwangwa and his Liuwa counterpart Situmbeko Musokotwane.
But MMD Mumbwa MP Brian Chituwo, amid disapproving gestures from some opposition MPs, said he did not support the motion as millions of Zambians had continued to perish on roads due to drink-driving.
Dr Chituwo said the law was there to protect innocent Zambians.
MMD Mwandi MP Michael Kaingu rose on a point of order asking whether Dr Chituwo was in order to ‘score in his own goal’, but Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini overruled the point of order.
MMD Sinda MP Levy Ngoma commended the Government for introducing the law, saying many accidents in Zambia had arisen from intoxication.
Patriotic Front Roan MP Chishimba Kambwili said weekend imprisonment would go a long way in preventing unnecessary accidents.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has introduced a motion on ways to amend the Value Added Tax Act, Customs and Excise duty to match the changes made in the Budget presented in October this year.
The changes would also see an increase in the cost of airtime in Zambia.
Some opposition MPs including UPND Monze Central MP Jack Mwiimbu, UPND Kalabo MP Chinga Miyutu, MMD Mafinga MP Catherine Namugala and Dr Chituwo condemned the motion, saying it would work against the poor majority in the country.