A high level constitutional crisis meeting between the Executive and opposition Members of Parliament, brokered by the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini is on today.
Parliamentary Whip for the opposition Garry Nkombo said the confirmation to hold the caucus has indicated the willingness by the Executive to dialogue on the way forward on issues raised about the new constitution including the need for a legal framework.
“I wish the Vice President Dr Guy Scott could lead the Executive in today’s caucus together with the Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba and Home Affairs Dr Ngosa Simbyakula in the dialogue over the standoff that has threatened to continue disrupting business in Parliament.
Nkombo said the demonstration of goodwill in choosing to dialogue and identify a clear roadmap in the current constitution making process was welcome as it will give Zambians a direction for the constitution.
He said the tension has resulted from President Sata’s pronouncement that the country did not need a new constitution which has brought about worry and anxiety among the people.
“We hope that with this commitment, government can come up with an appropriate response including a legal framework to guide the whole process and avoid further disruptions of business in the House,” Nkombo said.
He explained that the executive should give a clearer picture in which direction the government was moving in delivering a new constitution.
Nkombo who is UPND Mazabuka MP said as opposition, they were ready to continue pressing government by all necessary but non-violent means for the release of the new constitution and this meeting was one such meeting.
National Assembly Speaker Dr Patrick Matibini last week was forced to adjourn business in Parliament on two occasions following opposition MPs decision to protest in the house over the continued delay to release the final draft constitution and provide a clear road map for the whole process.
The MPs were cited for abrogating Standing order 70 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders for disorderly behavior that resulted in the disturbance of business in the House.
And the international community has condemned the intimidation of the opposition MPs over their position on the delayed enactment of a new constitution.
Meanwhile, PF Lusaka youth chairman Kennedy Kamba has warned against continued protests by opposition MPs whom he has threatened to ‘sort out’ in Chambers.
Kamba said he would storm Parliament to restore order should there be any more protests from the opposition in the House.
But Nkombo in his reaction said it would be a miracle to engage such a person as the PF youth leader because of the different levels of personal spheres at which each one of them associated.
“It would be impossible to engage with such a person because of the different levels at which we associate, please save my breath,” he said.
Over 2,000 Zambian workers in the manufacturing industry may lose their jobs if government allows the exportation of Soya beans in its raw form to Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries in the SADC region.
The recommendation to export the beans was made last week during a combined stakeholders meeting that brought together oil seed producers, crushers and traders, held at the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) offices, chaired by the union president Dr. Evelyn Nguleka.
At that meeting, the oil seed producers and traders proposed the export of Soya beans in its raw form to Zimbabwe and other countries in the SADC region because Zambia has an excess of 12 000 metric tonnes of Soya beans which was needed in Zimbabwe and other SADC nations.
But oil producers and crushers companies expressed concern over the recommendation, saying that the exportation of Soya beans in raw form would kill the local manufacturing industry and over 2.000 jobs would be lost.
The oil producing and crushing companies among them Emman Oil, Mount Meru, Unified Chemicals, and Zamanita under Zambeef objected to the recommendation saying that if government went ahead to approve it, Zambia as a country would suffer serious consequences as over 2000 people would definitely lose their jobs.
The oil and producing companies stated that currently the excess raw materials in question were not based on the 2013/2014 marketing season and pleaded with the traders and seed producers to wait until the new crop was on the market.
They said that the country was facing serious employment challenges and taking such a move would sabotage the efforts being made to ensure that people had decent jobs in the country.
However, the Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ) demanded that their Soya beans stock should be bought before the harvest and marketing of the new crop, a move which has created discontent among the producers.
“How do you export Soya beans in its raw form when it is wanted in Zambia for Soya cake, feed, oil and other uses? This move is suicidal. How do you export it at a low price when we can buy it locally and add value to it,” said one of the company representatives.
The Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ) also expressed concern on the move because it would put pressure on the local feed prices and production costs.
But the debate over the matter was pushed to a vote and the oil seed producers and traders took the day via a 27 to 5 votes and the recommendation to open exports of Soya beans in raw material would be submitted to government this week by the ZNFU.
And government says it will not permit the export of raw materials if the move threatened the local industry and the economic position of the nation.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Dr. David Shamulenge in an interview yesterday said that his ministry has not yet received the recommendations from the stakeholders meeting held last week seeking to open exports of raw Soya beans.
But he was quick to state that government’s position was to promote local industry by exporting finished products and add value to raw materials before any exports could be done.
Dr Shamulenge said that government would always protect the interest of the local people without fail, adding that his ministry was promoting value additional techniques to all raw materials before any exports of raw materials was considered.
“Government policy on this matter is very clear and what we are doing is to promote value addition to all our raw materials. You can see that we have already started in the milk industry, mining sector and other sectors,
“We need to grow our economy through promoting our manufacturing industries and helping them to produce finished goods ready for exports. This will also create more decent jobs for our people,” Dr Shamulenge said..