Scott opposes parentage clause in constitution bill

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DISCRIMINATORY clauses such as the parentage one as proposed in the Constitution Bill No 17 of 2015 must be removed, says Dr Guy Scott.

And Bweengwa UPND member of parliament Highvie Hamududu, who escorted Dr Scott as he submitted before the parliamentary committee on legal affairs, supported the proposal that discriminatory clauses be struck out of the constitution bill.

According to the bill currently before the House, a person that qualifies to be nominated as a presidential candidate should be a citizen by birth or descent.

But Dr Scott in his submission to the committee chaired by Choma Central member of parliament Cornelius Mweetwa, argued that such a clause was discriminatory.

Dr Scott said it was sad that Zambia was getting to a more complex situation in the constitution-making process without any justification.

He said the version of the 1991 amendment where it only states that a presidential candidate must be Zambian should be restored.

“I was an MP in 1996 and my arm was twisted very hard that if you wanted to be kicked out of MMD, then you go ahead and oppose this amendment [parentage clause]. I don’t want to do that again. If I find myself being pressurised to vote myself into being a second-class citizen, I won’t do it and I can’t do it,” Dr Scott, who acted as Republican president when Michael Sata died, said.

“Clearly, that clause of 1996 was targeted at Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Inyambo Yeta and Dean Mung’omba. Yes, UNIP boycotted the 1996 elections but still tried to put up a candidate who was chief Inyambo Yeta, then its party vice-president after Dr Kaunda was barred but then another amendment was brought to the House to exclude traditional chiefs from being candidates of Parliament. This was extremely controversial and it led to the resignations of some eminent members of Cabinet for the MMD, which led to a breakdown of relations with the donors who felt such was contrary to the spirit of good governance. So we see that these proposed amendments will be a reverse and we shall drift back to square one.”

Dr Scott said the Constitution should not be tailored in such a manner that it targeted people.

“It should be left to the voters or citizens. Leave it to the Zambians just like the United States left it to Americans to say ‘we will vote for Barrack Obama, whether you like it or not’. You can’t exclude Obama because he is black and no one likes him. No!” said Dr Scott.
And in supporting Dr Scott, Hamududu observed that the proposal in the bill that a presidential candidate should be fluent in the official language was subjective.

“Yes, discriminatory clauses should not be there [bill]; it should be cleaned out. Let’s have the version of the 1991 constitution,” said Hamududu.

Meanwhile, Mufumbwe PF member of parliament Stephen Masumba expressed disappointment at the failure by his party and the UPND to make submissions on the bill before the House.

Masumba congratulated UNIP, which made submissions, but said he felt let down by the PF and UPND.

“These are political parties that Zambians are looking to and so I am disappointed that the PF and the UPND chose not to make submissions on the constitution bill before this committee,” said Masumba.

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