CSOs demand clear roadmap to referendum on constitution

Cleophas Lungu - Pix ThePost
Cleophas Lungu - Pix ThePost

A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has demanded that government provides a clear roadmap and concrete timetable leading to a referendum in the constitution making process.

Zambia Episcopal Conference Executive Director Cleophas Lungu, who spoke on behalf of the CSOs, disclosed that following a two day meeting in Chisamba, the organisations demand that government announces dates for the publication of the final draft constitution, the appointment of referendum commissioners, and the national civic education campaign among others.

This was during a press conference held at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusak n June 12th.

Father Lungu said the organisations support Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba’s decision that the technical committee drafting the Zambian constitution should produce a draft constitution by June 30th, as the process was too important to be delayed.

He stated that the CSOs, who represent over 260 organisations across the country, were however willing to engage with the technical committee if it requests for a temporary extension, so as to better understand the basis for the request and to decide whether or not they should support it.

He emphasized the need to be sober and not only get excited about the date, but to ensure that the draft constitution was not disjointed.

Fr. Lungu disclosed that the CSOs have come up with nine basic principles which should be included in the draft constitution.

He revealed that the principles include the enjoyment and enforcement of fundamental rights, equality before the law and adherence to the rule of law, clear separation of powers and amendments requiring majority support.

Fr. Lungu disclosed that the other principles were active representation of the people, recognition of traditional leaders and customs, decentralized government with real devolved powers, land protection and creation of independent and impartial public bodies and commissions.

And speaking at the same event, Women for Change Executive Director, Emily Sikazwe said no expense should be spared in coming up with a people driven constitution because democracy was expensive.

Ms. Sikazwe said the CSOs will work hard to guarantee the success of the constitution making process.

Among the CSOs represented were Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), Young African Leaders Institute (YALI), Non Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC), the Civil Society Constitution Coalition, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), Panos Institute Southern Africa, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) and the Zambia Council for Social Development.