Luapula residents have nodded the proposed amendments to the Constitution of Zambia.
The residents have since urged their Members of Parliament, Anthony Kasandwe and Ponde Mecha of Bangweulu and Chifunabuli Constituencies, respectively, to support the amendments the Constitution and resist the temptation to throw away the Bill due to divisive politics from politicians who are opposed to the Bill.
The residents said this during a Public Forum organized by the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) at Samfya Town Council Chambers on Tuesday evening.
The Bangweulu lawmaker Kasandwe assured the people of Luapula that his Constituency will support amendments to the Constitution which are meant to improve the governance system and bring sanity in the country.
“Some opposition politicians and civil society organizations are opposing the recognition of chiefs by Government because they are happy to notice the confusions where imposters who manage to get support from a good number of people in chiefdoms can impose themselves or overthrow Chiefs as Government has no part in refusing imposters who overthrow or impose themselves as Chief,” he said.
And the Chifunabuli Parliamentarian Ponde has stated that even though some cross-section of people are rejecting the entrenchment of Christianity in the country, the National Dialogue Forum recognised that Christians want Zambia to remain a Christian nation and allow other people to practice their faith without hindrance.
Mr. Ponde further said the Constitution has provided for mixed member representation system which if enacted, will be an opportunity for women and people who are disabled to participate as MPs and councillors in governing the country.
Meanwhile, YALI President, Andrew Ntewewe, said the reintroduction of deputy ministers will enhance service delivery and bring policy makers closer to the people.
“The costs for maintaining a deputy minister is insignificant as compared to the benefits in service delivery as backbencher MPs are already getting salaries and allowances which will never be gotten if the President decided to appoint any deputy minister” residents unanimously supported the provision to was given by. We however need to strengthen the office of a deputy minister to allow them to perform the functions of a Minister when the Minister is not in office for any other reason,” said Ntewewe.
Deputy Council Chairperson, James Kapilila and Damson Chalwe, Chimana Ward Councillor, said although they are opposed to the election of Council Chairpersons from among councillors, Parliament must objectively debate this provision by analysing the pros and cons in light of the costs associated with by-elections for mayors.
Another resident, Cephas Mwewa, hoped the current constitution reform process would be the last time the Government is spending money on such processes at the expense of developmental programs in communities.
The majority of residents who spoke said the Government must protect the institution of chieftaincy against imposters by withdrawing recognition of persons who become chiefs through dubious means rather than play remain an onlooker in succession wrangles. They have further called on the National Pension Authority (NAPSA) and Government to clarify whether payment of salaries to retired civil servants is done by deducting monies from the retirement package.
“We understand payment of salaries to retired civil servants is putting pressure on the public purse when it pays retirees at the expense of development in rural areas but Government must commit itself to pay retirement package in a fixed time so that retired civil servants and their families don’t become destitute after civil service,” said Reverend Mubanga