National Dialogue bill will undermine, poison democracy –  GEARS

By Staff Reporter

GEARS Initiative has described the national dialogue bill No. 6 of 2019 as a poisonous intention to undermine and poison democracy and the fundamental freedoms and rights of citizens.

GEARS executive director MacDonald Chipenzi warned that tabling of the National Dialogue Bill in Parliament in its current form and structure will not bring out the needed reconciliation and unity in the country neither was it going to help the country come up with the much talked about constitutional, electoral and legal reforms.

Chipenzi said that the bill was poison that needed to be detoxicated before it could be embraced.

He also argued that dialogue should be an independent process.

“If the bill was to be passed into law without further review, it would mean whoever refuses to attend to the request to appear before the proposed Forum under section 17, that person is liable upon conviction, to six months imprisonment or fined 50,000 penalty unit. Each unit is said be pegged at K180. When you multiply it, the fine is just colossal,” he said.

The Bill proposes that a person who obstructs another person or member of their organisation from participating in, sworn in for and or being appointed to the dialogue Forum would face a jail sentence of a maximum of 3 years.

This is according to section 18 of the proposed Bill

And it goes without saying that some opposition leaders may be locked up for this offence thereby creating a possibility of them being disqualified for the 2021 general election based on the current constitutional provision which dictates that anyone sentenced to or serving a sentence of at least 3 years cannot contest an election.

Chipenzi argued that there was an anomaly to construct both the Constitution and subsidiary laws simultaneously.

He has since urged the public to read the bill and understand it while pushing for their Members of Parliament to scrutinize the bill and consult them as they prepare to vote on the bill.

Chipenzi urged government to withdraw the bill and detoxify it before administering it to the people.