The national constitution convention has today kicked off in Lusaka with hundreds of people from various sectors of society gathering to make final contributions to the first draft constitution before the final one is formulated and handed over to President Michael Sata.
This national convention follows the successful holding of 82 district consultative forums, 10 provincial conventions and the recently held sector groups’ convention which was a specialized distinguished gathering of professionals and subject experts who were grouped in sectors according to their area of specialization and expertise.
Acting President Edgar Lungu officially opened the first ever national constitution convention in the history of the country on behalf of President Sata.
Mr. Sata reaffirmed that under the Patriotic Front government, Zambia will not borrow or import a constitution from any other country but will formulate its own people driven supreme law of the land.
He said in a speech read for him by Mr. Lungu that the national convention, which marks the conclusion of the formal consultative process on drafting the Zambian constitution, demonstrates that Zambians are capable of rising above personal interests and work together for the common good of the nation.
The President noted that world over, the constitution making process was an art in compromise and consensus building which calls on citizens to give prominence to national interest as opposed to serving narrow partisan interest.
He said the constitution making should have a long term perspective and should not be motivated by short term gains.
President Sata has since urged delegates to utilize the platform provided by the national convention to selflessly contribute to the development of a new constitutional order because they carry the aspirations of millions Zambians.
He stated that the unsuccessful attempts of the past should motivate all delegates to finally put before the Zambian people a constitution that entrenches constitutional democracy, upholds the rule of law and establishes a credible governance system where the rights and liberties of all people are fully respected and protected.
The President reaffirmed his government’s commitment and determination to motivate the people of Zambia to give themselves a new people-driven and people centered constitution.
President Sata repeatedly emphasized that the process should be undertaken with a great sense of patriotism and reminded delegates and the technical committee not to simply pander to foreign interests or seek to incorporate standards and principles which do not reflect the country’s unique socio-political environment.
He added that Zambia seeks a modern constitution that will reflect its democratic progress but noted that the modern constitution should not be done without due regard to who the people of Zambia are.
And Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba, who is also the ruling Patriotic Front Secretary General said his party pledge to give Zambia a people driven constitution which he said his government has prioritised.
He said the PF government will do everything within its power to ensure that the Zambian people achieve their desired goal of a people driven constitution which will stand a test of time.
He echoed the President’s sentiments that Zambia will not borrow or import a constitution from other country but will work hard to formulate its own document that will shape the future of the country and its people.
Mr. Kabimba noted that Zambia has been peaceful since independence and has therefore called on all Zambians to remain peaceful and united as always.
And Technical Committee Chairperson Annel Silungwe praised President Sata for the political will he has shown in having the constitution making process completed.
Justice Silungwe has since commended all participants for the commitment shown in the ongoing constitution making exercise.
He disclosed that the resolutions of the national convention, comments that were made by the local and international experts on constitutional law and practice as well as resolutions adopted at the sector groups’ convention will be considered by the technical committee when preparing for the final draft constitution.
The national convention will receive and consider the comments and recommendations of the ten provincial conventions and further examine and deliberate on the clauses of the first draft constitution.
The convention will also prepare and submit a national convention report which will highlight the comments and recommendations to the technical committee for consideration in preparing the final draft constitution.
The proceedings of the national convention will be conducted in both thematic working groups and plenary sessions that will be assigned parts of the first draft constitution to consider before the convention closes on Wednesday next week.