Debates- Friday, 9th March, 2001

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Friday, 9th March, 2001

The House met at 0900 hours

[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]




The Vice-President (Lieutenant-General Tembo): Mr Speaker, I wish to give the House some idea of the business we will consider next week.

On Tuesday, 13th March, 2001, the business of the House will begin with Questions, if there will be any. This will be followed by presentation of Government Bills, if there will be any. Thereafter, the House will consider any stages of Bills which may have been presented to the House previously.

On Wednesday, 14th March, 2001, the business of the House will commence with Questions, if there will be any. This will be followed by presentation of Government Bills, if there will be any. Then, the House will consider private Members’ motions, if there will be any. Thereafter, the House will consider any other business that may not have been concluded the previous day.

Mr Speaker, it is my intention on the same day to move a motion to suspend the relevant Standing Orders to enable the House complete all business on the Order Paper and all matters arising therefrom and that on such completion, the House do adjourn sine die.

I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!



ELECTORAL (Amendment) BILL, 2001

The Minister of Legal Affairs (Mr Malambo): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the Bill be, now, read a second time.

Mr Speaker, the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2001, seeks to amend the Electoral Act Cap. 13 of the Laws of Zambia in order to introduce a system of continuous registration of voters. This measure, Mr Speaker, is being made due to the Government’s recognition of the fact that there has been a decrease in the number of registered voters which is a very worrying trend to a growing democracy such as Zambia. The number of registered voters is far below that of eligible voters.

This measure, Sir, is also in response to an outcry by electoral stakeholders on the need to introduce a system of continuous registration.

Mr Speaker, it has been acknowledged by the Government and by all stakeholders that this system will go a long way to help the Commission register more voters than has been the case under the current system of periodic registration of voters.

Mr Speaker, this House should also note that in circumstances where registration is periodic, eligible voters who happen to be out of the country over a relevant registration period are unable to register as voters and cannot vote. Periodic registration thus impacts negatively on the rights of those eligible voters. The continuous registration of voters will prevent such occurrences.

Mr Speaker, there is no doubt that we need to have a system of continuous registration. This will be for any election, whether it be the Presidential, Parliamentary, Local Government or, indeed, for purposes of referenda under the Referendum Act.

Mr Speaker, the system of continuous registration will improve our electoral process, it will enhance good governance and strengthen the people’s confidence in the electoral process through maximised voter participation.

The Bill, Sir, is straightforward. I commend it for the support of the House.

Mr Speaker, I beg to move.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Dr Sondashi (Solwezi-Central): Mr Speaker, I thank you for affording me this opportunity to debate on this Bill. 

This Bill, Sir, is important because it will ensure that our young people are enabled to register so that we can widen the franchise. I am only concerned that it has come rather late. Sir, I support this Bill. However, what I do not know is whether the Government will manage to administer the Bill most effectively and also to take care of non-Zambians, foreigners, who are in their thousands in this country. Unless that is addressed correctly and this Bill administered without being partisan, we shall find that the people who will be voting are foreigners.

Hon. Opposition Member: Hear, hear!

Dr Sondashi: That will defeat the purpose for which this Bill is intended. Unless we are careful with the administration, we are likely to find that certain clever politicians will enable non-Zambians to register. This country has seen a situation where foreigners have come into the country and have been given positions in this country only to awake when it is late. Therefore, it is not difficult for these non-Zambians to entrench themselves in the system.

Having said that, it is rather disappointing to observe that the hon. Minister of Legal Affairs’ responsibility is to advise the Government on bringing such measures like the one which he has brought belatedly. Yet he has not been advising correctly. For instance, the hon. Minister of Legal Affairs failed to advise the Government to introduce the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review recommendations to the extent that he advised the Government to introduce an amendment to the Constitution which is, now, giving us problems. This type of behaviour is not required.


Dr Sondashi: That is why I do not think that he should be praised for the stand he is taking, now, because if Ministers are not with the Government, they must resign and come here.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Dr Sondashi: You must not oppose Government policies when you are hon. Ministers seated there because you are making it difficult for the President to govern. You have to resign the way I did. I resigned twice myself when I was against some Government policies.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Dr Sondashi: So, we do not want to see anybody opposing the Government when he is an hon. Minister. He must resign and join us. That is the way to behave and that makes it easier for the Opposition to know whom to attack.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Dr Sondashi: So, resign if you do not agree with the Government.

Thank you, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Miti (Vubwi): I thank you, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to briefly add my voice to this very progressive Bill.

Mr Speaker, I would like to commend the hon. Minister and the Government for the Bill before the House. Indeed, for a long time, a number of Zambians who are supposed to qualify as voters did not have the opportunity to do so.

Mr Speaker, this Bill will save a lot of time, it is a cost saving measure for the Government. It is a fact, Sir, that if this exercise must be on-going, the required facilities must be put in place so that it does not start one day only to be halted or stopped the next day because facilities or materials required were not in place. An example, Sir, is the current programme of issuing national registration cards where, sometimes, there are no materials. So, I would like to appeal to the Government to ensure that for this programme to succeed, facilities must be put in place all the time.

Secondly, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development must ensure that funds are released from time to time for this particular exercise. Since the hon. Minister is here, he must get the message loud and clear because everything is all lumped on his ministry. So, we can only hope that we shall not reach a situation where there will be no funds for this exercise.

Mr Speaker, allow me to agree with Hon. Sondashi. I need a clarification on the issue of referendum, and I quote:

    ‘Provided that the registers of voters shall not preclude any person from voting in a referendum and Article 79 (3) of the Constitution.’

Mr Speaker, Zambia might be the only country where it is easy for foreigners to engage in a number of activities where they are not supposed to take part. I am asking for a clarification on this particular issue because we have given too much leeway to foreigners. We shall be taken over by these people and that is very dangerous.

I would like also to get a clarification from the hon. Learned Minister of Legal Affairs that there may be problems during the period of elections. What is it that will take place during or just before the elections period? What measures will be put in place to ensure that the registration exercise is well administered during that time? To just consolidate Dr Sondashi’s concern over the general administration of elections, we have elections this year, perhaps, soon after passing this Bill.

Thank you, Sir. {mospagebreak}

Mr Speaker: Order! Before, I give the Floor to the next contributor, the Chair would like to guide the House.

The Bill before you is a Bill by the Government collectively on behalf of the people. It will not remain on record without correcting some aspects which have been made by the hon. Member for Solwezi Central. It is not allowed in this House to attack hon. Members of the Cabinet or individuals in this House. I allowed you to complete your statement not deliberately but to take advantage of that development to advise the House. We will not allow that. The members of the Executive are collectively and not individually answerable to this House.

Secondly, I do not know what is in these notes. I have not read them. But these notes create problems for presiding officers. I do not know where they come from. We cannot concentrate on what is going on in the House while at the same time reading these notes. I believe it was only last week that we had an incident where the presiding officer could not understand what was going on because he was reading one of these notes until the situation erupted. If these notes are a matter of emergency, I will look at them but they distract our attention.

Mr Chipili (Kamfinsa): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to support this Bill which I consider very progressive. In doing so, I would like to make one or two comments.

Mr Speaker, indeed, continuous registration of voters is something that we have itched for and desired for quiet a long time. I would like to ask the hon. Minister to consider removing some of the encumbrances at this stage. Of course, now, it is too late because this Bill is on the Floor of the House. However, in the next registration, we would like to see a situation where identity cards and voters card are put together. This makes it easier for the would-be voters and for the Government. If this cannot be done soon, then some people will be disadvantaged when it comes to voting. One may have registered but lost the registration card in the process. Why can the Government not consider the use of a driving licence as well as passports as a means of identifying voters because these are national documents which are issued by the Government. Alternatively, we can look at incorporating the voters cards and identity card in one document so that it becomes easier ...

Mr Mweni: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Mweni: Mr Speaker, I rarely stand on points of order. Mr Speaker, I stand here on a very serious point of order. Is the Government in order to keep quiet when the people of Luwingu, for two and half weeks, have been in darkness with no water? I raised this problem in this House and the Government pretended that the transformer which was blown had been replaced. This morning, I phoned Luwingu, there is no water and electricity. Is the Government in order, Mr Speaker? I need your serious ruling.

Mr L. L. Phiri: Just go on strike.

Mr Speaker: The Chair is always sympathetic when hon. Members raise points of order because in their opinion, these points of order are important. However, the Chair would like to advise the hon. Member for Lupososhi that the issue of energy and water development fall in a particular portfolio. That portfolio has a Cabinet Minister and a Deputy Minister and the location of their offices is well known. The hon. Member for Lupososhi is advised that if he wishes to serve his people properly, he should raise this issue with the ministry concerned for urgent attention. This guideline should benefit all the other hon. Members of this House on similar matters.

Will the hon. Member for Kamfinsa continue, please.

Mr Chipili: Before the point of order, I was appealing to the hon. Minister to consider the two options.

Lastly, I would like to say that when we make provision for continuous registration, if this is not backed with budgetary provisions, it is just sheer waste of time. So, I ask the Government to ensure that continuous registration be provided for in the Budget so that it can, indeed, work.

With these few remarks, I thank you, Sir.

Mr Shimonde (Mwembeshi): Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker, I would also like to add my voice to this very progressive Bill which is long overdue. The continuous registration of voters is, indeed, cardinal to this nation. We have a lot of people who have been failing to vote because of lack of registration as well as voters cards. I would like to suggest to the hon. Minister to decentralise so as to make it easy for our people to register. Further, I want to suggest that the Department of National Registration works with the agency that will be registering voters so that the issuance of national registration cards and voters cards can be done concurrently. It will be cheaper for the Government.

Mr Speaker, the other point I want to mention is that we need to improve on polling stations so that we can reduce the apathy of voters. It is too cumbersome for old people to walk so many kilometres just to go and cast a vote for Shimonde. You should diversify and put up a lot of polling stations nearby so that it is easier for our voters to cast their votes. 

Thank you, Sir.

Mr L. L. Phiri (Chipangali): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for affording me this opportunity to support the Bill before the august House.

Mr Speaker, in supporting the Bill, I have this to say. My worry is that my constituency, Chipangali, borders with Malawi. Therefore, if this registration exercise will not be handled properly, we may have problems of foreigners being registered as it has been already mentioned. I have evidence of this. I have said this before. I am on record. I did point out that a lot of Malawians who were employed as workers on some farms which are in Chipangali have acquired national registration cards dubiously and there has been no action taken. This will qualify them to register as voters when those people are actually foreigners. This has happened, especially where people are supporting the party in Government.

All the workers have obtained national registration cards and that is very serious, unless the hon. Minister assures this nation and the House that there are certain measures they will use to make sure that those foreigners are not registered as voters. Otherwise, this situation will be very unfair.

Mr Hatembo: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Hatembo: Mr Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order. Is the hon. Member for Chipangali in order to bring up the issue of foreigners who have acquired national registration cards illegally ...

Mr Sibetta: Through you.

Mr Hatembo: ... without coming to my former office ...


Mr Hatembo: ... during that time when I was very active? Is he in order, Sir?

Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Chipangali may continue bearing that important piece of advice in mind.


Mr L.L. Phiri: Mr Speaker, the elections for this year will be very competitive so that a lot of tricks will be used by those political parties which would want to go into Government even if they are not popular.

Mr Speaker, I also want to bring to the attention of the hon. Minister the fact that we only want gazetted stations to be used as registration centres. In Zambia, some political parties do create agencies to use in recruiting people who would be registered. In some cases, they have been using houses to conduct registration exercises. It is on record that dubious houses of members of some political parties were used for this purpose.

Sir, as the hon. Minister winds up debate on this matter, let him tell the House how long the exercise will take as it has not been an on-going exercise. It would have been easy for the ministry if it had been continuous. So, we would want this exercise to be given  a bit of time, even up to election time because some people will also be acquiring national registration cards apart from voters cards.

Sir, free and fair elections can only be guaranteed if these things which I have mentioned are addressed.

Mr Speaker, with these few remarks, I support the Bill.

Mr Tetamashimba (Solwezi West): Mr Speaker, thank you very much for allowing me to debate. Really, we wish to thank the Government and the hon. Minister for having brought this Bill to the House which, of course, is long over due, but better late than never.

Sir, as Hon. Shimonde from the ruling party said, people walk long distances to go and vote. My argument, Sir, is that just yesterday, the Government sent the Electoral Commission to the Mulungushi International Conference Centre where the Chairman of the Electoral Commission told all the Members of Parliament here that it was up to us to give them schools, clinics and other buildings so that distances between polling stations could be reduced. So, really, I do not understand those colleagues in MMD who were trying to give an impression that we are going to be walking long distances.

Mr Shimonde: We were not there.

Hon. Opposition Members: Why did you not come?

Mr Tetamashimba: Sir, you gave us notices and people who were not there should not talk about things they do not know about here.


Mr Ngulube: Cabinet material!

Mr Tetamashimba: After November, of course.


Mr Tetamashimba: Mr Speaker, I wish to make a comment on the voting age and the age at which we give our children national registration cards. I think the current regulations are that a person who is sixteen years old can get one, but one qualifies to vote at the age of eighteen years. I want to find out from Government, Sir, whether it is not better for people to get their national registration cards somewhere around seventeen years so that at that age, they can also vote. That way we will be issuing national registration cards to people that we know will be voting rather than those that are actually going to stay for the next two years before they can qualify to vote.

Mr Hachipuka: Hear, hear!

Mr Tetamashimba: Sir, I also wish to request the Government whether it is not possible for people to use national registration cards to vote. Sir, if a person goes to register and is appearing in the voter’s register, surely, all that person needs is his national registration card to be able to vote without necessarily producing the voter’s certificate. After all, the national registration card has the bearer’s portrait and all the information that we transfer onto the voter’s certificate.

I must also congratulate the Government on having abolished the voter’s certificate as we were told yesterday. That was very progressive, indeed.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Tetamashimba: We are also grateful to the Government for informing us that there will be fresh registration of voters from 17th March, 2001 and that it will depend upon political parties. We are appealing to the Government that Zambians would want to be given an opportunity to use documents that have been approved by the State, for example, the passport must be one of the documents in addition to the national registration card. I know that the former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs will agree with me that our passports have more security features than the national registration card as at now.

Mr Hatembo: Exactly!

Mr Tetamashimba: Thank you very much.

We were promised yesterday that there would be new certificates so that after somebody has registered ...

Mr Chisanga: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Chisanga: Mr Speaker, is the hon. Member for Solwezi West in order to wear a green ribbon in form of beads when you earlier on ruled against green ribbons in this House? Is he in order to disobey your orders, Mr Speaker? I need your serious ruling.

Mr Sibetta: After all, all the benches are green.

Mr Speaker: May the Acting Chief Whip look into that matter.


Mr Speaker: Will the hon. Member for Solwezi West, continue.

Mr Tetamashimba: Thank you, Mr Speaker. It is a pity we come to Parliament without knowing what a ribbon is. Mr Speaker, I must also thank the Government, although many people do not know that the registration of voters is going to start on 17th April. Since we are about to adjourn, can the Government tell us what measures the Government has put in place as we start the voters registration exercise, which is going to take one month, as we were told by the Electoral Commission. 

Of course, it will be continuous but after thirty days, they are going to suspend because of the elections. Has the hon. Minister of Home Affairs put in place logistics for people to obtain national registration cards so that we have many people register as voters for us to have a large voter turn-out this year? Without that, Mr Speaker, this progressive Bill will not be effective.

The hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development is nodding, meaning that he has a lot of money to give to our colleagues for them to go into the villages to issue national registration cards, especially to those people across the Zambezi, the Lozis, who cannot afford to cross the river now.


Mr Tetamashimba: I know that Mr Speaker has no tribe. He belongs to all the seventy-two tribes. Mr Speaker, as I sit down, really, I would like the hon. Minister to explain to me the difference between a child and an adult. My view is that if someone who is sixteen years old and below is a child, then he should not be entitled to a national registration card. Let us start issuing national registration cards to people who are eighteen years old and above because these are considered as adults.

I thank you, Sir. 

Mr Musakabantu (Nominated): Mr Speaker, the step the Government has taken through this Bill is in the right direction. We in MMD have always said that we wanted continuous assessment of the electoral system. This is the re-visitation of the system. I just want to ask the Government to make the relevant support systems available to the people charged with the responsibility of registration of voters. What I have in mind here, Mr Speaker, are things like transport, money and stationery. We would not like to hear that in a particular place registration is no longer taking place merely because they do not have stationery or fuel. Continuous simply means continuous; not stopping. 

There is one thing I would like to ask the hon. Minister of Legal Affairs to comment on. It is whether, surely, the exercise should run into election day. I would like to suggest that registration should stop, maybe, six weeks before the election day so that we are able to know if there is any question of disputing the results. We should be able to know that there were so many people registered for a particular constituency. If we continue registering, the picture will be blurred.

I further wish to ask that there should be provision for verification. I am sure that since this is a democratic instrument, it should be possible for me to go to an area of my interest and check on who has registered. The hon. Member for Chipangali raised a point about certain people from different countries coming in to register and I am sure if we have provision for public verification, this could be addressed. Otherwise, Mr Speaker, I find this to be a straightforward Bill which requires the support of the whole House.

I thank you, Sir.

Mr Ngulube (Lundazi): Mr Speaker, I want to condemn and blame the Government for bringing this Bill to this House very late. Mr Speaker, you do not fatten a cow when it is already sales day. Why in an election year like this one do you bring pieces of legislation and amendments to the electoral process? The elections are a continuous process and this piece of legislation should have been brought a long time ago, but, now, we are just bringing a lot of problems to the people of Zambia. We will not even afford, maybe, to pay our civil servants and the people who will be running some of these processes. 

I know, Mr Speaker, that when law becomes the slave of patriotism, it is no longer loyalty and when we are dealing with people, it is inevitable for us, as Government, to make sure that things should be put in place in good time. Bringing Bills late does not help.

With these few remarks, Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Luhila (Lukulu East): Mr Speaker, I would like to add my voice to the many voices of other hon. Members who have supported this Bill. Mr Speaker, this is one of the progressive Bills ever brought to this House by the MMD Government. Mr Speaker, this side of the House and all progressive people throughout the country have been crying for continuous registration of voters. So, this Bill is most welcome, hon. Minister.

Before I proceed, Mr Speaker, we know that the people who are going to participate in this exercise are mostly teachers and rural civil servants, some of whom have not been paid their money from the previous exercise. So, hon. Minister, before you engage the same personnel in this exercise, please, pay them their outstanding allowances.

Mr Speaker, I beg to disagree with my colleague who said that this Bill has been brought to this House late. It is better late than never. 

Mr Speaker, our people have been subjected to walking long distances to go and vote. They have not been able to obtain national registration cards in time in order for them to participate in this very noble duty of voting their leaders into office.

Sir my humble appeal is that the Government should ensure that funding for this very important exercise is set aside to pay our people so that this exercise can go on smoothly.

Mr Speaker, previously, it was very common to hear, especially in rural areas, that certain rural posts had not been covered on time. Sometimes, you would give a period in which to register voters as two weeks and then the materials arrive within one week of closing. We are not expecting that to happen.

Mr Speaker, the role of this Commission, this year, is very cardinal. This process and the role of this Commission is going to set a good precedent for good governance. I say so because in some quarters the independence of this Commission is questionable. However, after the briefing yesterday, I was convinced that this Commission is on its path to being independent. We are confident that it is going to play its role very well this year.

Mr Speaker, one of the biggest and important roles which this Commission is going to play is the announcement of the name of the presidential candidate who will win or who is going to occupy State House.

Mr Patel: Not Chiluba.

Mr Luhila: Mr Speaker, since 1964, probably it has been done smoothly. I would like the hon. Minister to revisit the role of this Commission in as far as the announcement of the presidential result is concerned. I am saying so because we are in the new millennium. Whereas previously, political parties had the monopoly of winning the majority, I cannot see that happening now.

Mr Patel: And not Chiluba.

Mr Luhila: Of course, not.

So, hon. Minister, you should revisit this role, it is very important. We cherish peace and democracy in this country.

Mr Speaker, I would like to welcome the announcement which was made yesterday, at another forum, where we were told that there will be re-registration of voters. This country is going to do away with the Nikuv cards and registers. This is most welcome. Since the Nikuv registers were introduced in this country, there has been a lot of disputes and eye brows have been raised concerning the registers. I am glad that the Government and, indeed, the Electoral Commission have realised that the Zambian population has increased. After the census, there is need to register voters afresh so that we have new voters’ registers to use in the forthcoming elections.

I thank you, Sir.

Mrs Chisala (Kankoyo): Sir, I thank you very much for affording me this chance to debate on this Bill. I totally agree with the hon. Minister that a lot of people have not registered as voters and I believe that it is better late than never.

Mr Speaker, I would like to say something concerning the long queues. I welcome this move that people must register, but I am afraid people spend so much time queuing to register at registration offices. I hope that something could be done to make the process of obtaining national registration cards faster than it has been of late.

I would like to speak on behalf of the women ...

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika (Mongu): Hear, hear!

Mrs Chisala: ... of Zambia.


Mrs Chisala: I am sure that even my National Secretary (Mr Sata) will agree with me that these women that we use as campaign machines to bring us into this House do not have much time to spend queuing to register. They have other things to do.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mrs Chisala: These women that dance for you at campaign times, Sir, must be looked after even though you forget about them once you are in power.

Hon. Members: We know!

Mrs Chisala: I have every right to speak.

Mr Speaker, I just wanted to say that we should have more people registering and take the registration offices closer to the people.

I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: It is quite clear that this Bill is interesting. So, maybe, the House should take it a little easy and debate. I see more indications and I would like the House to debate exhaustively. Hon. Member for - on the right, anybody here?

Mr Sata: Ta mwa nsonte kanshi.?


Mr Speaker: Later on, I will come to you later, hon. Minister Without Portfolio. Hon. Member for ...

Mr Sibetta: I would ...

Mr Speaker: I would like to listen to another voice. Hon. Member for Mongu. 

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika (Mongu Central): Mr Speaker, I thank you very much for giving me an opportunity to contribute to the debate on this Bill. 

I would, first of all, like to congratulate those hon. Members of Parliament who have been ‘promoted’ to the back bench. It is a great place to be. There is a lot of democracy and freedom here. 

Mr Speaker, I also convey my sympathies to those who have been ...

Hon. Members: Elevated.

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: ... taken to the Front Bench.

Mr L. L. Phiri: At the wrong hour.

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: I would also like to congratulate this House on being so green. I have noticed that even the National Assembly Motel is quite green. All the table clothes are also green.

Mr L. L. Phiri: And Sata himself is green.


Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: Mr Speaker, this Bill is very welcome. We have long waited for it. 

In 1991, we committed ourselves to continuous registration and we said it very strongly. So, it is welcome. My only disappointment is that, like so many other things, it is coming ten years later. Somewhere, there was a mix up of priorities because many things have been done that did not happen before. Sir, this particular one, which is so important to our people, has come so late when most of our country is flooded. Even places that normally do not flood are flooded.

Therefore, I would like the hon. Minister to tell us how, in this world, we are going to register all the Zambians in this short period. It is most unfortunate. We had known, for five years, that a big general election was coming and a study has been done to show that many Zambians want to vote. It is true that there are a few who will not want but many want to. So, we need to give them a chance. I would like to urge the Government to, next time, get their priorities right. Do first things first and not last things first. Start with the things that concern the people, do not just change things that concern you personally.

While I welcome this Bill, my worry is that it is coming so late and I really do not know if all the people who want to vote are going to vote. I am aware that the Electoral Commission is not well funded, which is most unfortunate. The low funding of the Electoral Commission takes away a lot of their independence because they have to wait for the Government to instruct them when they have funding; when they can sit down; and when they can start. I must say that next time we have an Electoral Commission, we want dynamic and creative people who can decide when these things can be done other than wait for the Government all the time. Sir, I would like to urge my colleagues in the Front Bench that this matter of registration is something that all of us should have discussed a long time ago. We should have put our heads together to see how we can solicit funding. There is a lot of goodwill and funding would not have been a problem.

Mr L. L. Phiri: Hear, hear! {mospagebreak}

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: My other point, Mr Speaker, is that when you look through the Yellow Book, you find that a lot of money has gone elsewhere, to District Administrators and all sorts of Votes. The priority should have been on the Electoral Commission so that they can do their job well. We are also very worried because since 1996, the issuance of national registration cards has been erratic. It was not continuous as it was supposed to have been. A lot of times, there were no films; the offices are dilapidated; and there is dust all over. These offices have not been facilitated, maybe, in urban areas, but in rural areas many young people who wanted to have the cards, up to now, do not know when they will have them. It is late, we are only a few months away from the elections, and it is rainy season and all these exercises should be done. It is really unfortunate.

Mr Speaker, I would like to emphasise and endorse the role of women. We know that even from the statistics that we received yesterday, more women vote. Women like young people do all the campaign. They do all the donkey work. They go door to door and do most of the work, but we only use and abuse them. We do not respect them enough to facilitate their participation.

Mrs Chisala: Hear, hear!

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: We know women’s multiple roles. They take care of the whole household. Even on the day of registration, they still have to run around to go to the clinic, visit patients and so, we need to have a queue for women so that they can vote before men. Let the women vote first ...

Hon. Members: Aah!

Mr Sibetta: Correct!

Mr Muloji: Equal rights!

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: ... so that they can go and take care of the children and other people.

Hon. Member: We all cook!

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: Mr Speaker, I would also like the hon. Minister of Legal Affairs to explain the reference to Article 79 of the Constitution pertaining to the referendum. I would like to know why it is coming now, why it cannot come later and why it did not come all along. I would like to urge the Government to have good faith, to work well with us and not always to be sweeping the dirt under our carpet and changing goal posts and doing all sorts of things. I am very unhappy that the Electoral Commission does not have enough funding. 

There are many areas, and I want to encourage the hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development - I know that within the regular work, Votes are shifted and money flows from code to Vote. I would like to encourage and urge him, right now, to get all the money that he can and give it to the Electoral Commission so that Zambians can be registered so that we can have a majority Government. We do not want to have a minority Government which has been voted in just by a few people. We would like this exercise to take place all over Zambia, not only in Luapula where it always starts.

Mr L. L. Phiri: And Northern Province!

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: I would also like to urge the Government to make sure they facilitate transport for the Electoral Commission and for the people who are working on voting. This transport should not only be restricted to vehicles because, as already indicated, many parts of Zambia are flooded. We need boats, probably more boats than we have ever needed. We need helicopters - do not just use them for by-elections in Mfuwe and Kalabo area. This is the time to use them. We are not at war, we have a lot of army planes, use them, now, to facilitate the registration of Zambians so that we can have a majority Government.

I thank you, Sir.

Hon. Opposition Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Chibambula (Dundumwenzi): Mr Speaker, ...


Hon. Members: Hunger strike!

Mr Matutu: Will he make it? He is very weak!

Mr Chibambula: ... thank you for affording me this rare opportunity to add my voice ...

Mr Matutu: My dying voice!


Mr Ngulube: Talk like somebody on ...

Mr Chibambula: This is the voice of Dundumwenzi ...


Mr Matutu: Which is fading away with hunger.


Mr Chibambula: ... calling from the wilderness.

First of all, Mr Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleagues who have been elevated recently to ministerial positions. The first one I normally call muntu, Hon. Namuyamba - congratulations. Also, my dear colleague ...

Mr Sibetta: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, I seek your serious ruling on what is happening in Dundumwenzi and, in particular, to the Member of Parliament for that area who is believed to be on hunger strike and yet he is putting on weight.


Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, you can see his cheeks, ...


Mr Sibetta: He is putting on weight. What kind of hunger strike is this from Southern Province, ...


Mr Sibetta: ... where people are putting on weight when they are on hunger strike? I need your serious ruling, Sir.


Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Dundumwenzi may cover that point of order.


Mr Chibambula: Mr Speaker, the hon. Member is just looking at my big jacket.


Mr Chibambula: The will is there but the face is weak.


Mr Chibambula: Mr Speaker, I would like to most sincerely thank the Vice-President for having resolved my problem.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Chibambula: I will remember him in my kingdom.


Mr Chibambula: For thirty years, Mr Speaker, I have known him as a man who can help and he keeps his word.

Mr Matutu: Oh, he is an honourable man!


Mr Chibambula: Having said so, Mr Speaker, I would like to complete my congratulations to Hon. Matubulani ...

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: Mr Speaker, is the hon. Member of Parliament, who is gaining weight while he is on hunger strike, in order to promise people that he will remember them in his kingdom when he has no kingdom?


Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: He comes from a clan that has never had kingdoms but people there have always been slaves. Is he in order to make false promises? I need your serious ruling.


Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Dundumwenzi should avoid making assurances before the House which he may not be able to fulfil.


Mr Speaker: May he continue, please.

Mr Chibambula: The hon. Member does not know that I belong to the royal family.


Hon. Member: Hear, hear.

Mr Chibambula: The Bachindus are the great lions like the one in Front there and Chief Chikanta is a nephew to my father. So, I belong to the chieftaincy of Chikanta. Please, bear that in mind.

Mr Speaker, I would like to continue with my congratulations to our colleagues on their elevation and to just urge them to work hard and assure them of our support.

Mr Speaker, I have one or two points to make. Sir, I will illustrate my points by giving an example of Tanzania and Namibia where I have been involved in monitoring of elections. Mr Speaker, one hon. Member mentioned the queuing which makes voting take long and the voting time from 0600 hours to 1800 hours. In fact, today, you will have to probably ferry voters if you want to win an election and you have to spend a lot of money. What we should do is just to shorten the process. 

Mr Speaker, in Tanzania what they do is that in one polling district, you have about four registration points where women stand on one side and the men stand on the other side. At the same time, if your name starts with the letter ‘M’ ...

Mr Sata: Those are Muslims like Hon. Hamir.

Mr Chibambula: ... you will queue in that line. You will find that within five hours, everybody will have finished voting.

Mr Speaker, in Namibia, although the population is small, they are highly organised. They have mobile voting facilities.

Dr Kamata: That is dangerous.

Mr Chibambula: It is not dangerous. If a system works, it will always work. Imagine if elections were held during the farming season when all the farmers are busy, how many farmers will leave their fields to go and cast their votes? Very few would do that. Apart from that, there is also the question of distance. If we are unable to demarcate these polling districts, probably the answer is to have mobile polling stations. It can work here if it has worked in small countries like Namibia. I am sure in future, we might have to think about this system.

Mr Speaker, with these few remarks, I thank you.

Mr Sibetta (Luena): Mr Speaker, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this Bill.

Sir, it is a very progressive piece of legislation although it has come three years late. Never mind, it is better late than never and it is welcome. It is also welcome because it indicates that there will be no more new polling stations. The House will go to the polls as it is represented now. There will be no more new constituencies. If there were to be new constituencies, this Bill should have included that.

Mr Sata: Ikala taukwete ifyakulanda.

Mr Sibetta: That is the problem with you; you do not attend these seminars. You cannot guess what is discussed at a seminar, you just have to attend and listen for yourself.


Mr Sibetta: Sir, this is really a good piece of legislation. On the idea that our people should have two queues, this is a Christian country and we should not be copying things we do not understand. The Muslims have two queues; one for ladies and another for men. Our women have more rights in this country and we can queue behind each other whereas in those Muslim countries ...


Mrs Chisala: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mrs Chisala: Mr Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order. Since when was Hon. Sibetta a woman? Does he know what rights we have and what rights we are fighting for? Hon. Sibetta, we do not want to be in front of you or behind you, we want to be beside you because we are equal.


Mr Chisala: Is the hon. Member for Luena in order to speak on behalf of the women of this country? I need your guidance.

Mr Speaker: The hon. Member for Luena should, in the course of his debate, answer that challenge from the hon. Member for Kankoyo in her point of order.

Will the hon. Member continue, please.

Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, I know I am really treading on slippery ground, especially that my hon. Members for Mongu Central and Kankoyo would wish to have a separate queue from the men. However, Sir, we have situations like that of Hon. Matubulani who has five wives and has the right to queue with his wives.

Laughter. {mospagebreak}

Mr Sibetta: I do not know whether he would be behind, in the middle or in front.


Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, Hon. Chikwakwa there, who has two, has the right also to queue with them.


Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, this is a very difficult topic.

Hon. Member: Hon. Sata.

Mr Sibetta: Hon. Sata has three, ...


Mr Sibetta: ... so, we do not know whether the Medical Doctor will be in front or the education officer behind and ...


Mr Sibetta: So, Sir, it is a very difficult subject we are discussing. It is better we queue with our wives behind each other.


Mr Hatembo: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Hatembo: Mr Speaker, I rise on a very serious point of order. Is Hon. Sibetta in order to be castigating the innocent Ministers who have married more than one wife when he knows very well that in Zambia, we have a big surplus of women who are supposed to be protected.


Mr Hatembo: Is he in order, especially that his first wife rejected him, to castigate the hon. Ministers, especially the Minister Without Portfolio?


Mr Speaker: Arising from that point of order, the Chair agrees with the hon. Member for Luena who said that he was debating on slippery grounds.


Mr Speaker: He did admit before hand that the subject was very slippery. May he continue, and please, now, come to the topic.


Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, I will leave the topic and just congratulate the hon. Minister on bringing this Bill to the House. I also want to congratulate him on the stand he is taking within the party. This is the electoral system. Big political parties like the ruling party need to have a three-tier system. That is the left, centre and right. We know who are middle loaders in this big party.

Mr Patel: And the chola boys.

Mr Sibetta: I do not know whether it is briefcase or chola boys, as Hon. Patel says. These political parties must be allowed to have some differences. It is very healthy. The Leader of the House, the Minister of Legal Affairs or the Minister of Education, etc., must not resign but fight to incite that party so that new leadership can emerge from within. This is healthy for democracy.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: Order! The hon. Member for Luena is out of the topic.

May he debate the Bill.


Mr Sibetta: Sir, I also want to congratulate the European Union and NORAD, who are the donors, on having indicated to our Government that they will fund us to improve the electoral process. Subventions from the Budget Office do not come very regularly. Therefore, for the electoral process, with the current political situation, to rely only on budgetary provisions is likely to cause problems.

Mr Speaker, you are aware that since the MMD came to office, the number of voters has dwindled. In fact, this is a minority Government because less than fifty per cent of the people elected it. To be precise, forty-one per cent of the registered voters took part in the last presidential election. Out of that, less than thirty-eight per cent voted for MMD. So, this is a minority Government. 

Therefore, Sir, we must encourage registration to be a continuous process so that many people can register. In fact, the majority are not with this Government but they were not allowed to register. We hope we can have elections around October or November so that more people can register and express their feelings through the ballot. Since 1991, the number of our Zambian people who have registered has been below fifty per cent and the number for those who have gone to the polls has gone down.

This year, with this mechanism of registering people when we have floods, we anticipate only thirty-five per cent will actually qualify to register and vote. Therefore, we are likely to have another minority Government. 

Mr Sata interrupted.

Mr Sibetta: Those were the reasons you changed polling stations from Nabwalya to another place. You know that very well (pointing at Hon. Sata). I am your friend.


Mr Sibetta: Mr Speaker, this is a very important piece of legislation and we must continue to appeal to the people to register. The indications that there could be change of heart somewhere, should not be taken seriously. We must get people to go out and register since many people are anxious to express their feelings at the ballot box. It is very important that people must register.

With these few remarks, I thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Mwanza (Petauke): Mr Speaker, first of all, I would like to congratulate my colleagues, particularly my former neighbour, Hon. Namuyamba, who has been elevated to a very high position. I believe he will remember me so that I can also become his neighbour in future.


Mr Mwanza: Mr Speaker, the proposed Bill is really a progressive one but the good intentions of this House are always frustrated by the shoddy performance of the Civil Service.

Mr Speaker, it is my wish that the hon. Minister ensures that the implementation of this very progressive Bill is successfully done and monitored by competent authorities. The Electoral Commission should be well funded to ensure that the process is implemented successfully.

Mr Speaker, I am a little bit worried about some areas in this country which are totally inaccessible either by road or water. So, I suppose the Government will ensure that the Electoral Commission is supplied with helicopters to be able to reach all parts of the country.

Mr Speaker, I thank you.

Mr Sichinga (Isoka East): Mr Speaker, I want to lend my support to this Bill and commend the learned Minister of Legal Affairs.

The little qualification is that really, if we were preparing this in good time, we should have seen to it that it happens this year. Sir, I want to say that while this House will pass this Bill, at the end of the day, its effectiveness relies on the implementation by the Executive arm of Government. If past issues are anything to go by, we may have a problem of allocation of adequate resources to ensure that even a good idea such as this one is put into effect.

Mr Speaker, yesterday, we were privileged to attend a seminar by the Electoral Commission. A number of problems were highlighted; none more specific and more important than the funding even for the elections this year.

Now, one of the arguments that many hon. Members in this House have advanced is that our country could not have afforded to have too many commitments like elections, OAU conferences and so on. We have made it a point that we should have released resources to attend to the issue of elections this year and allowed the OAU conference to be held at another time. This was to ensure that there is sufficient funding to this very important exercise.

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission made it very clear that there are a number of things that they would like to put in place to enhance the process of election but they cannot do that because there is insufficient funding. In fact, he went as far as to throw the ball back into our court here, as Members of Parliament, that we are the ones that are approving the Budget and it is up to us to ensure that there is sufficient funding. He did also allude to the fact that the provisions that we have made in the Electoral Commission for this year is not sufficient to hold the elections unless the donors were to come in to help.

Now, I just want to highlight that the assistance that many members of the donor community has provided is conditional upon doing certain things to ensure that the system is seen to be equitable. In fact, we should attend to that ourselves as citizens of this country.

So, the money that donors have pledged will not come forth unless there is sufficient compliance with agreements that our Government, on behalf of our people, have undertaken. Already, the Chairman indicated that there are certain conditionalities which he cannot guarantee.

Mr Speaker, I want to make an appeal to the Government. Good management is essential. Good management is important because even the implementation of any programmes and projects must rely on the implementation and good administration in order for them to be effective and useful and beneficial to our people.

In this connection, Sir, I would like to make reference to the issue that has been raised and debated in this House many times and that is the issue of requiring a voter’s card and a national registration card. Sir, with sufficient collaboration, we can combine the national identity card with voters’ details so that only one document would suffice for both the identification of the voter as well as for national identity.

At the moment, as hon. Members will be aware, we have had the abuse of the system of voters’ identities issued by councils and places like that to enable the voters who have lost their voters’ cards to participate in the elections. Sir, this has been abused and has been a source of friction.

I do believe that with the current level of Information Technology, we can identify a system that will issue the voters’ cards on the spot. It can be done and I believe that there will be savings which will make this process more effective and cost effective.

In this regard, Sir, the problems in issuance of national registration cards will impact on the ability of citizens to get a voters’ card. Last, year and the year before, we spoke on this issue and asked that there should be a provision. In the Yellow Book, there is no provision for issuance of national registration cards. So, how will they obtain the voters’ cards, especially those who have lost them? Why can we not sequence even simple things like the one I am talking about? National registration cards should have been issued last year and there should have been a provision this year before voter registration commences. In fact, the process could have been handled in a dual capacity, both for national registration cards and voters’ cards.

Sir, I would like to appeal to the Government that this matter should be considered. We were advised by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, yesterday, that they expect to start the registration of voters on the 17th of April, 2001. Now, there will be many places which will be inaccessible at that time. So, what will happen to them? What provisions will be made for those citizens to register in those places which cannot be reached because of the amount of water that we are experiencing in our country?

In conclusion, Sir, I would like to say that it is essential that when issues are brought forth, there is sufficient agreement between political parties because this is an issue that transcends the party in Government.

There is another issue, Sir, that probably needs to be looked at. I know that this sounds far-fetched, but many countries are looking and examining this to ensure that all the citizens, wherever they might be, are able to vote. This is the issue of overseas voting. This country has exported a number of its citizens to neighbouring countries who have an interest in ensuring that our country is governed in a particular way and they would like to ensure that their views are taken into consideration. I know, at the moment, the numbers may not be so numerous as to make much difference, yet, this is their right. They would like to ensure that they participate. In any case, even some of the people that are out there may be so influential in their own localities that they would like to come and participate in the campaigns and so on, but since they are not residents here, they may not have registered as voters. I would like the hon. learned Minister of Legal Affairs to consider this issue.

Now, there is a problem at the moment, Sir, with the movement of people. Once you have registered at a particular polling station, you can only go back to vote in that particular locality. I know that there are logistical and management problems for a person who is a registered voter to go and vote somewhere else. However, I would like to appeal to the Government that this is something we can consider. This is something that we should be able to reflect on. If a person has to produce, as we currently do, a national registration card in order for him to use the voter’s card, what would stop that person going to any polling station and voting? After all, Sir, as you very well know, this system has been abused so much that, now, we have had known District Administrators misusing voter’s cards which have not been identified and collected by the owners. This, therefore, cannot be said to be a system that is not effective. It can work if it is properly administered.

I would like to ask the Government to examine this particular aspect as well. I know that these two last issues I have raised may appear to be minor, but we must be thinking ahead. There are a lot more Zambians that are going out to neighbouring countries and working there and would like to participate in the affairs of the country.

I think it is important that there is an agreement between political parties on things they consider to be important, especially in the conduct of the elections themselves. In other words, candidates’ agents in the booth and those that must be outside. As we have seen, Sir, this year, the elections are going to be tense and we as Zambian citizens would like to avoid any incidence. We want to keep the clean record that we have had from 1991. All our elections have been incidence free. Therefore, we expect the Government to take some action when within their own political parties they have people that want to create confusion and start fighting other people, it is a bad example, especially when it happens in the ruling party.

Thank you, Sir.{mospagebreak}

The Minister of Education (Brigadier-General Miyanda): Mr Speaker, I support the Bill. My remarks, may be slightly out of date because I indicated much earlier when my sister, the hon. Member of Parliament for Mongu, complained about why I was indicating early. It seems that hon. Members believe that Ministers must debate at the end. This is a debate. I do not have charge of this Bill. So, I wanted to intervene at the appropriate time to make the debate lively.

So, some of the remarks I will make, now, might be out of date, but I will still make them.

Mr Speaker, in supporting the Bill, I would like to comment first on the issue of time. Some of the colleagues have complained that this Bill is late.

There is a time for everything. This is the time for this Bill. In our system, there is no specified time for legislation. Parliament exists to legislate. For instance, we can adjourn next week. If it becomes necessary to pass some laws, we will be called back. That is the role of Parliament.

Secondly, Sir, the Bill is very specific. Its object is to introduce a system of continuous registration of voters. It is not about polling stations or how people are going to vote. This is what we should debate. We should debate the advantages and disadvantages of continuous registration. One of the advantages is that in the past we had to wait for ten years to re-register.

This Bill seeks to change this very disadvantageous way of doing things. So, the hon. Members should support it. It is good because people come of age everyday. Each day, there are new people coming of age. So, this Bill should not even have any other comments of negative nature because, now, one can register at any time. That is another matter which other hon. Members can address. The other advantage of the continuous system is that people who lose cards can replace them at any time.

Another one is that there is no last minute rush to go and register because of an election. We might have a problem this year because this is the first time this is being introduced but there will be no last minute rushes. People will be regularly going to register. So, this is really not just progressive but wonderful. And I think it will even cut down on the expense of conducting a ten-year exercise which, when it is not completed on time, you extend three or four times. You recall, hon. Members, that last time we had a registration, we had about three extensions and this was quite expensive. This new system will do away with this inconvenience. 

Then, there was a complaint about queues. Actually, this system will remove queues when going to register because voters will have already registered. So, it is the opposite of what one hon. Member complained about. 

The only observation I want to make on this particular point was the remark suggesting that the MMD Government is not a Government of the majority. It is important that hon. Members know that it does not matter how many people are on the register. Registering them does not make them go and vote. They can still stay away. So, it does not make sense to think that because four million people have been registered, they will all vote. They may not go there and there are many reasons why people do not go to vote. Some are just fed up, others are busy while others may be sick. It is the role of hon. Members to go back and convince their people not only to register but also to go and vote when the time comes.

The last observation which I want to make which may be out of time is problem solving. In life, there are several ways of solving problems. I know of, at least, three. One is that when there is a problem, you face it. You deal with it. You fight it. 


Brigadier-General Miyanda: It is important. The second one is to wait for the problem to solve itself. That has its disadvantages because sometimes the problem will sort you out.


Brigadier-General Miyanda: So, face the problem and deal with it. 

The second one is you wait for it and this has a lot of disadvantages because when a problem solves itself, it may not be the solution you wanted.


Brigadier-General Miyanda: Sir, the third one is to run away.


Brigadier-General Miyanda: The problem with running away is that you have to be physically fit because if you run slowly, the problem catches up with you and finds you. 

The point I am making is that the attack on my hon. Colleague, the hon. Minister of Legal Affairs, was misplaced because to resign is personal but one has to be certain that they mean to resign. Dr Sondashi was unfair in this regard. I want to say that while on the record, the hon. Member for Solwezi Central announced that he was resigning, we also know that later on he publicly apologised to the President. There is no need to apologise if you have resigned. Just resign and go. So, I think it was unfair to attack my colleague.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: Order! 

The Minister Without Portfolio (Mr Sata): Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker, I would like to compliment His Honour the Vice-President for bringing the last chapter in the promises the MMD gave ten years ago.

Mr Speaker: Order!

Business was suspended from 1045 hours until 1100 hours.

Mr Speaker: When business was suspended, the House was considering the Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2001, and the hon. Minister Without Portfolio was contributing but before I give him the Floor, I have a brief announcement to make.

Hon. Members, I have to acquaint the House with the fact that today, in the Speaker's Gallery, we are privileged to have four dignitaries. These are: Hon. F. J. Ayume, Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament; Hon. Dr. M. Sefali, Vice-President of the Senate of Lesotho; Mr A. M. Zvoma, Clerk of the Zimbabwean Parliament; and Hon. C. E. Ndebele, Former Speaker of the Zimbabwean Parliament.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: Our visitors arrived on 8th March, 2001, and will depart Zambia on 10th March, 2001.

We welcome them and are happy to have them in our midst.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sata: Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr L. L. Phiri: Wind up.

Mr Sata: Wind up your speech and I will wind up mine.


Mr Sata: Mr Speaker, I am indebted that I have this opportunity to contribute. As I said earlier, MMD has a proud record. Sir, even shifting goal posts is part of good governance ...


Mr Sata: ... because, first of all, you must know when to shift the goal post and where to put it.

Sir, when MMD came to power, we promised several changes to be made to the system in this country. We have privatised, liberalised, retrenched, acted and we promised that we were going to bring continuous registration. There is no question of lateness because timing is important. As other hon. Members have said, do not act just because you want to be a populist. Everything has to be examined and brought at the right time.

Sir, the biggest problem we have in Zambia is that everything Zambians do is wrong. What other people do is right but without examining the historical background of the people whom we are comparing ourselves with. To those who have heard about Margaret Thatcher, when the commoners demanded that they wanted to be given a vote if they were going to raise money, they knew the constraints which the system suffered. The United Kingdom has been developing for several years. Up to today, the United Kingdom’s electoral process is not the best, they reformed the House of Lords and the House of Commons and are still reforming because every system has to be developed, examined, counter-checked and re-examined.

Now, we have some theories. Someone referred to our Government as a minority Government yet he is also a ‘minority’ Member of Parliament for Luena. The hon. Minister of Education did mention that eligibility on its own was not enough. You can register the whole country  provided you remove the age limit and everything but not everyone is going to vote. In the United States of America, 200 years of development ...

Mr Sibetta: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Sibetta: Much obliged, Sir. Is the hon. Minister Without Portfolio in order to refer to me as a minority Member of Parliament when I was among five contestants? There was MMD, ZADECO, NP, Agenda for Zambia and I was an Independent, and crushed them all. The MMD came out number four. I need your serious ruling and protection.

Hon. Opposition members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: The point of order raised by the hon. Member for Luena requires that the hon. Minister Without Portfolio debates that issue.

Mr Sata: Sir, Adolf Hitler once said,  British propaganda says what they do to me but they do not say what I do to them. It is the same mouth, Sir, which says that the MMD Government which was brought to this House through NIKUV register is a minority Government. So, anyone who is in this House and was brought on the same register is also a minority Member because the NIKUV register does not only affect one side but everybody in this House.


Mr Sata: Sir, as hon. Members of Parliament, if we discovered difficulties in privatisation, let us not come here and dramatise them. Let us use our constituencies to explain such difficulties. The Americans, after 200 years of democracy, cannot still balance votes in Florida right now.


Mr Sata: Here is a situation in Zambia (Nabwalya) where there is no electricity or computer. Now, how are we going to ascertain if a voter who was registered in Siowolo or Liuwa was to go and vote in Nabwalya? Hon. Members are asking for impossibilities. Let us develop plausible systems. We have not developed our communications system in this country and if it is not developed, we should not ask for the skies because we are complicating matters. Registering people instantly cannot be done because in Muyombe or Tendere, the only place where you can find electricity is at the rural health centre where we installed solar energy. How are the people in Chief Muyombe going to be registered instantly without electricity? Those are some of the difficulties which we have to acknowledge. 

This Bill is not intended to register people who are going to vote this year. It is intended to continue registering people like the way it is done in the USA or the United Kingdom so that we can remove this monotony of saying registration of voters will start at such and such a time. Now, it will be continuous. So, this Bill should not be confused with issuance of national registration cards.

With or without national registration cards ...

Mr Sichinga: On a point of order, Sir.

Mr Speaker: A point of order is raised.

Mr Sichinga: Mr Speaker, is the hon. Minister Without Portfolio in order to raise the point that he is raising now when he knows very well that no voter can effect any vote without a national registration card? I would also like him to explain how else he expects voters to exercise their right because he is misleading this House. Is he in order to do that? Sir, I seek your serious ruling.

Mr Speaker: The point of order by the hon. Member for Isoka East is an attempt for him to debate in a bonus way the issue that he has already raised. Unfortunately, the Government is, now, replying to the contributions that he and other hon. Members have previously made and, of course, finally, the hon. learned Minister of Legal Affairs will reply to some of the hon. Members’ concerns, including those raised by the hon. Member for Isoka East.

May you continue, please.

Mr Sata: The laws of this country allow a young man or lady who is sixteen years of age to obtain a national registration card. The Electoral Act does not recognise a person who is sixteen years old to register as a voter. It only recognises a person who is eighteen years and above. So, I do not see how they are going to meet because even if you register everyone who is sixteen years, they will have to wait for two years before they qualify to be voters. That is why I was saying let us set aside the national registration cards exercise because we have many people who have national registration cards who have not been registered as voters and the reasons vary. It can be either distances from the polling stations, sickness or they were at school at that time or facilities did not exist, but with the law on the Floor, I think, Zambia, in Africa, is always scoring a first. There are very few African countries which are creating an environment like this one where we shall have continuous registration.

When a revolution develops, you need to talk and debate so as to arrive at a particular consensus or at something workable and what we have done is in the right direction and this, I think, is in the governance document which we produced.

Mr Speaker, I believe in the inter-party talks, but I would like to make it very clear. Inter-party talks are consultative. At a particular time, there shall be a political party which shall be in command and the party in command shall not wait for inter-party talks for them to govern and make just laws. A party in command shall continue legislating, making laws, governing and implementing the laws because we have a duty to govern, to protect the lives and the property of the people of this country, including people like Hon. L. L. Phiri.

Mr Tetamashimba: And the Constitution.

Mr Sata: That is what we are doing. If we did not believe in constitutionality, we would not bring laws here. We respect the Constitution because, Mr Speaker, at the moment, we are the custodian of this Constitution.

Hon. Government Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Sata: As much as other people will talk, they do not have the mandate. Those who are not in Government have no mandate to interfere with our governing. We shall continue governing until our mandate is either renewed or removed. That is final because that is what democracy is all about. At the moment, with the lack of seriousness, divisions and lack of comprehension of issues in the Opposition, when elections come, we will say ‘bye bye polio’ to some people.

So, Mr Speaker, I support the Bill. I compliment His Honour the Vice-President and the hon. and learned Minister of Legal Affairs for drafting nice laws by which some people have been caught napping. They do not know that this law has come and we are not trying to hijack anything. We are just finishing our governance issues.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr Malambo: Mr Speaker, I am grateful and truly indebted to the hon. Members of this House who have debated this Bill. Seventeen of them have expressed their views, including the two hon. Ministers who have assisted me in responding to some of the issues.

Mr Speaker, let me take the opportunity to, very briefly and in summary form, respond to some of the concerns the hon. Members have raised. I will start from the beginning. The first contributor, Sir, was Dr Sondashi who commended the Government for bringing this Bill. On his concern about registration of non-Zambians, which concern has been raised by others, Mr Speaker, I want to say that this Bill is not about citizenship. This Bill is about continuous registration of voters. The issues of citizenship, which are ably handled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, will be dealt with under the relevant legislation.

People who ordinarily hold green national registration cards are Zambians and are the people who will then avail themselves the facilities offered under the Electoral Act and the Bill on the Floor of the House. After making substantive issues, Dr Sondashi took the opportunity to take a swipe at me. Dr Sondashi, I will defend your right to air your opinions. You have a right to express an opinion, but on the issues of fact, perhaps, we need to put the record straight. Your position is that because I have expressed a different view on the need to amend our party constitution as well as the Republican Constitution. I should, therefore, take the honourable way of resigning, which you did.

On the last bit, I want to say that I remember being a Special Assistant to the President when you left Government. My recollection is that you did not resign, you were dismissed.


Mr Malambo: So, you may have resigned during the UNIP era, but you have, certainly, not resigned twice. So, as a matter of record, we do require to make things straight. You say that I should have advised the Government on the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission which duty I did not perform. You recall that in 1995 when the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission was appointed, I was neither a Member of the Government nor a Member of Parliament. I was practising law on Cairo Road. In 1996 when this House was debating the recommendations of the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission, I was a back-bencher sitting at the very end of this House. I debated that Constitution and it is because of what I said when I was sitting at the back bench that I have taken the position I have taken today on the Constitution of our country.

So, I neither had the opportunity nor the need to advise the Government then. So, your position, Dr Sondashi, has some serious factual errors as they relate to me. You say I have taken a position, therefore, I must resign. I am aware of the issues of collective responsibility. If a Government decision is arrived at and I disagree to that Government decision, it is honourable for me to leave, but the issue on which I have expressed an opinion is neither a Government position nor is it a party position.

Hon. Opposition Member: Ako ka Presidential material.


Mr Malambo: So, I have taken a position on one side of the debate within our party. If you think I should, as a result of those circumstances, resign, I will uphold your right to express that opinion.

Mr Speaker, there were issues of importance that Hon. Miti raised relating to national registration cards and Hon. Sata, very ably, dealt with those issues. I agree that for the Bill on the Floor to be effective, it will require logistical support from the Government to the Commission which will be responsible for its implementation. Hon. Miti invited me to clarify the issue of referendum and Article 79 and I think Hon. Mbikusita-Lewanika also invited me to make comment on that issue.  Before I do that, I just want to deal with one issue raised by Hon. Miti relating to what happens just before elections. Should people be allowed to register? If Hon. Miti had taken time to read the Bill, perhaps, he would not have raised the point he did. If you look at sub-section 3 in the draft Bill, and Mr Speaker, may I have your permission to read, you will see that the subject is dealt with. The Bill reads as follows:

    ‘Notwithstanding sub-section 2, the Commission may, by regulation, provide for periods during which the registration of persons referred to in sub-section2 is to be suspended for the purposes of 

    (a)    an election; or

    (b)    compiling and updating the register.’

So, the Bill is alive in the concerns that you raised and the Bill itself provides for that eventuality. 

In relation to Article 79, Mr Speaker, I would like to simply say that the Electoral Register to which this Bill relates is intended to apply to what is called the Direct Election. The Direct Election is an election that is either presidential or parliamentary under the Electoral Act as well as Local Government Elections and the Referenda under the Referendum Act. 

The Referendum Act is, I believe, Cap. 6 of our Laws. It is the Act that provides for the power of the President to put to the country any question that he deems is of public interest and must be decided through referenda. That Act is of general application. It relates to any question that the Government wants to put to the people. The people who should participate in that sort of referenda under the Referendum Act must appear in an Electoral Register. 

There is a difference, Mr Speaker, and that is why there is a necessity for the proviso which is in the Bill. The proviso reads as follows:

    ‘Provided that the register of voters shall not preclude any person from voting in a referendum under Article 79 (3) of the Constitution.’

Mr Speaker, Article 79 (3) of the Constitution relates to what is called Constitutional Referenda. Constitutional Referenda is that referenda that is intended to ask questions for the alteration of Part 3 of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, as well as the Amendment Article of the Constitution.

Mr Tetamashimba: Hammer, my brother.

Mr Malambo: Mr Speaker, I need to read this in order to clarify the point, and I quote:

    ‘A Bill for the alteration of Part 3 of this Constitution or of this Article shall not be passed unless before the first reading of the Bill in the National Assembly, it has been put to a National Referendum with or without amendment by not less than fifty per cent of persons entitled to register as voters for the purposes of Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.’

Mr Luhila: Hear, hear!

Mr Malambo: The relevant phraseology, Mr Speaker, in that Article is ‘entitled to be registered’.

Constitutional Referenda do not rely on an a register of voters. Constitutional Referenda entitle every person, who is entitled to be registered, to vote in a Constitutional Referendum.


Mr Malambo: Therefore, if we did not make the proviso to this Bill, it would have meant that even Constitutional Referenda if held under Referendum Act, would have to be regulated by a register and that would have been unconstitutional. That is why that proviso becomes relevant to the Bill.

I hope I have managed to go some way towards explaining the explanations sought by Hon. Miti and Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika.

Dr Mbikusita-Lewanika: Are we having one?

Mr Malambo: Mr Speaker, the issues of merging voters’ cards with the national identity document has been dealt with by the Hon. Minister Without Portfolio. I do appreciate that this is an issue that requires further and much more discussion. So, I do not think that my response will add anything to the debate.

Mr Speaker, many issues were raised but most of them were repetitive. This Bill may be late only if you think that laws have a life span. This particular Law is not being made for this election. So, it is not late because this law would be applicable even after the next election. There will be continuous registration of voters even after the next election until this Law is repealed.

So, there is no life expectancy, so to say, to this Bill. So the question of when it was brought is not really an issue at this stage, unless people think that for the purposes of this election, we should have had continuous registration. I am presenting this Bill not for the next election but for the future of the electoral process in our country. I have taken note of every point, Mr Speaker, that has been raised by the hon. Members of Parliament. Those issues that require attention of the Electoral  Commission, I will bring them to the attention of the Electoral Commission and then at an appropriate time, the Commission will be able to address those issues.

Mr Speaker, I thank the hon. Members for their support of the Bill and I beg to move.

Hon Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: Before I put the question, I would like to make another brief announcement that in the Speaker’s Gallery now, we are privileged to have Mr Cyril Ndebele, the Former Speaker of the Parliament of Zimbabwe.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Mr Speaker: As hon. Members may be aware, Mr Cyril Ndebele is a good friend of this House. I welcome him to the Speaker’s Gallery.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

Question put and agreed to and the Bill read a second time.

Committed to a committee of the whole House.

Committee on Tuesday, 13th March, 2001.



Vote 90/01 - (Office of the President - Lusaka Province - Headquarters - K8,400,723,189).

(Consideration resumed)

The Deputy Chairman: Order! I wish to state that due to a technical difficulty, the Chair does not intend to go on with the order of the day. Instead, I will ask Mr Speaker to return to the Chamber and adjourn the House.

Hon. Members: Hear, hear!

(Debate adjourned)


[MR SPEAKER in the Chair]

(Progress reported)


The Vice-President (Lieutenant-General Tembo): Mr Speaker, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

The House adjourned at 1137 hours until 1430 hours on Tuesday, 13th March, 2001.