The 2016 Presidential and general elections will be held on August 11 if President Edgar Lungu assents to the Constitution Amendment Bill as passed by Parliament yesterday.
This is according to Article 56. (1) which reads “a general election shall be held, every five years after the last general election, on the second Thursday of August”.
In Article 56 (2), it states that the day on which a general election is held shall be a public holiday.
Parliament yesterday adopted the new Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill No.16 of 2015 and the Constitution of Zambia Bill No. 17 of 2015 for possible assent by the Head of State.
Other important clauses adopted pertain to a wining Presidential candidate securing a 50 percent plus one vote, having a presidential running mate and dual citizenship.
Members of Parliament scrutinized Bill No. 17 of 2015 clause-by-clause after Vice President Inonge Wina moved a motion that standing orders 20, 21, if necessary, and standing order 101 be suspended to enable the House complete all business on the Order Paper.
Parliament which started sitting at 14:30 hours on Thursday only managed to complete business on Friday around 10:00 hours.
Parliament adopted the new Constitution with amendments except for part three, which is the Bill of Rights, set to be adopted or rejected through a referendum.
Earlier, MPs voted to remove the articles on provincial assemblies and proportional representation clauses from the Constitution of Amendment Bill.
Debating on the provincial assemblys clause, Shuwang’andu Member of Parliament Stephen Kampyongo wondered why some members from the United Party for National Development (UPND) were supporting the clause, which they opposed in their submissions to the technical committee on the constitution.
Mr Kampyongo said MPs had a moral imperative to be consistent as representative of the people.
And Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula dispelled assertions that government had gone against its submissions.
Closing the debate after contributions from Mr Kampyongo (PF), Gabriel Namulambe (PF), Jack Mwiimbu (UPND), Garry Nkombo (UPND) and Geoffrey Lungwangwa (MMD), Mr Simbyakula said the core submissions that entrenched democracy and legitimacy such as the majoritarian rule, dual citizenship and running mate clause were intact as opposed to UPND MPs claims that the document was mutilated.
“The arguments are mere politicking and playing to the gallery. Let’s put in place that which is feasible economically. We don’t want our people to be meeting under trees. Let’s deal with issues that are at the heart of the Zambian people,” Mr Simbyakula said.
And commenting on the mixed member proportional representation and article 49 on provincial assemblies, Mr Simbyakula told MPs to let issues pend because they would be relooked at and see how best the two clauses would be effected in future.
“We must set out priorities, Zambians have identified provisions that will entrench democracy and legitimacy… we need to do it methodically. Let’s look at it and fine-tune it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Parliament has gone on recess until February 2016 with a call by the Vice President Inonge Wina to all MPs to be visiting their constituencies regularly.
But the Foundation for Democracy and Development (FDD) has accused PF and MMD of betraying the people on the constitution.
FDD Spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said what happened in Parliament were the people’s submissions were allegedly removed was a sham and a betrayal of the people’s trust.
Mr Mwanza said instead of passing the Draft Constitution Bill as recommended by the people, PF worked in collaboration with the MMD and opted to mutilate the Draft Constitution Bill to suit their selfish partisan interests by removing some clauses from the Bill.
He said PF and MMD jointly managed to betray Zambians by removing the appointment of Cabinet outside Parliament clause, the Mixed-Member Proportional Representation and Provincial Assemblies.