Debating substance

The appeal by Solwezi Constituency MP Lucky Mulusa for Parliament to discuss substantive issues of national importance is most welcome.

There are many issues that the house must debate either by motion, question or other mode to ensure that the gains made from the one party state dictatorship do not return by the backdoor.

We realize that the allure of office and accompanying privileges blinds most policy makers from the deleterious effects of policy initiatives.

The most recent initiative being the monitoring of communication by Government agents. This is a surreptitious operation that will not exclude any member of society, least of all the political leaders now and in the future long after they have left office. They will have left behind a legacy of Government intrusion which will be very difficult to eradicate.

It will be recalled that the President Mr. Michael Sata was among the proponents of turning theft of motor vehicle into an un-bailable offence.

He was unfortunately one of the very first victims of the policy when Government changed hands and opportunists who are now close to the Government decided to use it against him. He spent many days in Kamwala remand prison.

The same can be true of many other policies being developed today. Their impact may not be readily visible but within a few years the full impact will be felt, by then it will be too late.

This is the point that the Roman Catholic Bishops were making when they questioned the registration of sim cards. They were not too certain for what purpose this policy was being implemented. We are also left top wonder.

This is all the more relevant in the light of reports that more than 600 Ugandans face the law for having sent “insulting” messages to the Speaker of the National Assembly who they accused of failing to perform her duties.

All the 600 were identified by their sim card numbers. They will be prosecuted for an offence that the Government will determine. An” insult” has no clear definition therefore the Government may choose to assign value to harmless comments made about the work and performance of the speaker.

Is this what is intended?

 impeachment versus immunity 

The last few weeks have witnessed some of the most negative and divisive forms of debate, totally devoid of substance. If anything the tenor of debate has so degenerated that it is difficult to expect any meaningful dialogue unless commonsense and goodwill prevail.

The most topical being the removal of RBs immunity which is now accompanied by the call for the  impeachment of the President and call for a medical board.

Both issues are contentious, emotive and capable of raising very serious differences in and outside the House.

In all this the one and constant factor are people driving this agenda. The same people that drove the agenda against second republican President Frederick Chiluba, and then to an extent attacked President Levy Mwanawasa are now attacking former President Rupiah Banda.

Given an opportunity there is no doubt that they will turn against President Michael Sata if he makes the “mistake” of heeding the counsel and wisdom of those around him who stand for good governance and integrity.

President Sata can be rest assured that at the right time and with the right motivation they will retrieve the tome of epithets they used to describe him when was opposition and landed in  Kamwala remand prison for theft of Motor vehicle.

The truth is, it is not a question of if, but rather when. This is the lesson President Levy Mwanawasa learnt, the hard way.