UPND MP's seats unoccupied in Parliament this morning
File:UPND MP’s seats unoccupied in Parliament this morning

Analysis by Sunday Chilufya Chanda

One of the main duties, if not the most important, of a Member of Parliament, is to effectively represent their constituents. Save for the occasional by-election, every five years Zambians elect one of their own to be their voice in the house of laws.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean these constituents expect their parliamentary envoy will agree or disagree with everything that comes to the floor, they do expect that these representatives will stand vigilant and firm, serve as their voice and champion their interests within the chambers.

However what we see is a group of absconders rather than representatives, a collection of politicians that, since President Edgar Lungu assumed office, wantonly abandons their legislative business in the name of protesting. This collection, of course, is comprised of the opposition UPND Members of Parliament.

Most recently, these opposition lawmakers have declared they will not support the Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 that’s currently under review at committee stage. And yes, while they may choose not to support the bill, the manner in which they are going about this is troubling. In effect, they are running away from their duties, opting to stage a walk-out rather than engage in the institutional processes of legislative negotiation and debate available to them. Have they even read it? And if so, what is their major contention?

But we’ve seen this behavior before. While numerous MPs, civil society members and other stakeholders attended the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) that produced this Bill Number 10, the UPND, as a party, was notably absent.

So how can these MPs rubbish a piece of legislation whose resolutions they are not privy to? They have openly declared war against the process when it comes for enactment before the President signs it into law.

Reading a quote by UPND Sesheke MP Romeo Kang’ombe reveals that his party has agreed to frustrate the process potentially at directives of party president Hakainde Hichilema.

Kang’ombe is quoted as saying;

“We did not attend (the National Dialogue Forum) on the pretext that the parliamentary committee that sat and received recommendations from the general public informed the House that we shouldn’t go ahead, but the arrogance of numbers won. So, why should I go if the committee says otherwise. Should I go because the PF members of parliament have pushed their agenda? Even now, as they bring it on the floor of the House, all of us are going to walk out because we are listening to the bigger voice! And we start with the bigger voice and not the minority.”

Although Kang’ombe is new to this session, these tricks are not alien to Zambians. Their misconduct in the house is well documented. The speaker has even cautioned if not outright sanctioned these representatives. They caused a scene when President Edgar Lungu was elected and came to address the house.

In the name of toeing their party line, which is essentially an unyielding refusal to recognize a legitimately elected president, they once walked away on the Head of State but still wanted to get their sitting allowances. Understandably, they were punished. And they ended up apologizing. But it seems they never learn, or worse still, they are on a deliberate course to obstruct and frustrate democratic processes.

Indeed their leader Mr. Hichilema is an avowed obstructionist, and the legislators aligned with UPND are his loyal followers. Accordingly, they’ve undertaken the mission of derailing the progress of the Constitution Amendment Bill at his direction. But what else can their opposition to this legislation be if not gaslighting, distracting or political gaming?

If UPND legislators and party leaders feel that the Constitution Amendment Bill 10 features unwanted stipulations, then they should bring those grievances to the house and engage with fellow parliamentarians from both the opposition and ruling party. Otherwise, what grounds do they have to oppose the outcome?

After all, they stayed away from the NDF where they would have been part of the process and would have possessed considerable understanding of the issues at play. But no, they are lost and don’t seem to know what they are doing.

Look at their leader Hichilema. In one breath he is reporting to the Anti-Corruption Commission allegations of corruption while in another he tells his MPs to walk out on a disagreeable bill in parliament. Do these people have any sense of logic?

It’s clear that the UPND MPs are not representatives but absconders, politically-minded legislators whose supporters should seriously question a their role in parliament. You don’t run away from challenges, but face them by finding solutions and overcoming. This is the most basic social contract between citizens and their elected officials.

Walking out smacks of cowardice and an attempt to earn sitting allowances by false pretense. MPs are to be representatives, not recklessly self-interested absconders. The UPND must overcome their political inclinations and put their case on record. Absconding will yield nothing more than further insult and injury to the people they claim to represent.

The Author is Patriotic Front Media Director

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Just saw the author was like not this fcuk again.
    Don’t waste your time time reading this guys gibberish he is talking from a feds point of view and he is insensitive to the common man’s feelings.
    He thrives on crumbs and believes zambians should be at the dinner table only as waiters and nothing else.

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    • Parley, Walk-outs. Question is where do they go and what do they do when they shun their duties? Do they know their role in parliament.
      In the UK parliamen or US Senate and house of representatives those in the minority vote on bills whether they like them or not. The power of numbers dictate.
      Opposition means opposition in Zambia. Even when you raise a red object in front of them, they will oppose and say it is green.

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    • All PF Apologist thought the Amendment Bill No.10 was going to be plain sailing in Parliament. They now realize there are so many obstacles to the Amendment. LAZ and some NGOs have Petitioned the Bill No.10 in Concourt. The Impeachment Bill has also complicated matters. PF must prove in Court that both the Impeachment Bill and Bill No.10 are compliant with the Zambian Constitution. The Speaker of Parliament is between a Rock and a Hard Place. The Select Committee Matibini appointed cannot prove the Constitutionality of these 2 Bills. Speaker Matibini should know that what is Good for the Goose is good for the Gander. Matibini should stop Politicizing these Bills and leave Concourt to deal with them at law.

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    • PF Cadres like Davies Mwila, Sunday Chanda, Mumbi Phiri, Tutwa Ngulube etc are very upset by LAZ, HH and UPND over Bill No.10. PF has invested a lot in the NDF Resolutions and the Amendment Bill No.10 of 2019. It looks like Bill No.10 is their Parachute to their Power Retention in 2021. The LAZ Petetion to Concourt and the stance taken by UPND MPs to vote against the Bill is Life threatening to them. They are worried about the Petition outcome as well as the 2/3 Majority Vote outcome should the Bill be subjected to a Secret Ballot Vote. The Lungu Impeachment Bill which was mishandled by Speaker Matibini has complicated matters. These devts and uncertainties among PF Cadres has raised Tempers. They are frustrated and disillusioned following these devts.Time will tell.

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    • They would rather go to meet Julius Malema in South Africa than debate issues which would lead to develop Zambia! The tribal Horganization is a shame to the nation.

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  2. Absenteeism in No. 1 Plot is hundred times more damaging and definitely more costly.
    Any comments big mouth?

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    • Very true instead of addressing the challenges and some burning issues in the country he’s talking a out the Upnd Mps who are exercising their Rights

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  3. THIS IS A TREND FOR EVERY LARGE OPPOSITION PARTY THAT HAS EVER BEEN IN ZAMBIA INCLUDING PF WHEN THEY WERE IN OPPOSITION. IS IT RIGHT NO. BUT I WOULD RATHER RIGHT NOW WE FOCUS ON THE PRIORITY PROBLEMS WE ARE HAVING. LIKE I ALWAYS SAY AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION RIGHT NOW IS NOT THE PRIORITY IT’S MAKING SURE THAT COST OF LIVING FOR AVERAGE ZAMBIAN IS A POSSIBILITY THAT’S WHAT WE NEED NOT THE DISCUSSION OF DEPUTY MINISTERS OR DISCUSSION OF THE KABWILI TALK LOADSHEDDING , MEALIE MEAL THAT’S OUR PROBLEM

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  4. Sunday Chanda should deal with the issue at hand. The issue is that Bill No.10 has been Petitioned in Concourt on the basis that it is unconstitutional. The Bill is therefore Subjudice. Parliament has failed thru its Legal Affairs Committee to prove that Bill No.10 is Constitutional. Speaker Matibini should now leave Concourt to hear the Petition and make a Ruling and issue guidelines on how New Bills should be vetted b4 being Tabled on the Floor in Parliament in future. The Political Select Committee appointed by Parliament is irrelevant and cannot comment on the Constitutionality of this Bill. U need an Independent PLC to do this. PLC should be composed of Prominent MP Lawyers familiar with Constitutional matters.

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  5. Please tell us what pf has achieved. We currently facing excessive load shedding, mealie meal at over k150, highest debt ratios in Zambian history and here you are analysing upnd mps. They say big minds discuss ideas while small pea brains discuss people. Chilufya you are one of the dumbest people I ever worked with. I remember my white wife going through some of your written work and wondering whether you had mental health issues. Anyway update me and my white wife are visiting some friends today in the upper class Leamington spa area. These are areas where you don’t find poor immigrants.

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  6. That is why they will never rule this country,to each a talent was given some to lead,some to rear cows etc so this is not a surprise because it is not their talent.Dont steal some one’s talent focus on your talent and you will do well.sharp……………………..

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  7. Sunday Chanda? This tosh I can’t read, can’t he write under a pseudonym? No difference anyway, from the tone of the writing I would tell that it is Sunday Chanda or a UPND sycophant.

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  8. Both UPND and PF are actually tosh, although given a choice between the two I would prefer PF because on a trbal scale of 0-1, Upnd scores 1: trbal.

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  9. Ba Just asking how many absenteesm has Boris Johnson done since he became Prime Minister muletashako bapwititi tororo

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  10. Very true instead of addressing the challenges and some burning issues in the country he’s talking a out the Upnd Mps who are exercising their Rights

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  11. There was a time in our country where the opposition was more popular than the siting Govt. That narrative is not the case in Zambia today, at least going by the numbers in the bye elections following the 2016 general elections. The biggest problem in Zambia today is not the poor governance, corruption or debt but very very poor and outdated opposition leadership style. They lack innovation and clearly they have been outdone by the current Govt. While the opposition seem to want to tell people that the current Govt is very bad, the majority of the citizenry seem to think otherwise. The unfortunate part for this opposition is that they are just a stubborn group who have resorted to behaving like hooligans Instead of Honourables as they often referred to they are worse than the Kaponya lot.

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  12. UPND MPs neither will they agree with PF for anything nor PF MPs.

    The reason why UPND as political party will not agree with PF as reigning

    government is because of DIVISION in the country since 2016 general

    elections .

    There is a lot of hatred in the country.In politics,workplaces,schools

    especially higher learning institutions as well as business enterprise one

    will positively understand how bad the country is in terms of disunity.

    UPND will never agree with PF for anything more than how beautiful it will

    look.

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  13. Some people think they are more knowledgeable than others just because they have access to media.

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  14. Sunday Chanda, dont spoil my Saturday. Try tomorrow Sunday because I will be too busy at church to pay any attention to your garbage. See your friends UPND, they dont bother us on Saturdays.

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  15. The President hasn’t come back? Has he proceed on a state visit to China or he will first come back to Zambia and leave for China the next day? Just checking on my President, worried for him how hard he works for Zambia, the jet lag must be taking its toll on him.

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