Plot to discredit Constitution-making process slammed

Zambia draft Constitution
THE Government says it is aware of a plot by some civil society organisations (CSOs) and opposition political parties to mount a campaign to discredit the ongoing Constitution-making process.

And a consortium of CSOs, political parties and student movements yesterday gathered at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross to demand for the release of the final Draft Constitution to members of the public.

Chief Government spokesperson Mwansa Kapeya said in a statement yesterday that the Government remained committed to its promise and to the wishes of Zambians to ensure that a new Constitution encompassing the views of the people was born.

“It is the responsibility of this Government to ensure this is done and no amount of suspicion will detract it from achieving this noble objective,” Mr Kapeya said.

He said the Constitution-making process was an important national undertaking which should be devoid of partisan inclinations, unwarranted ultimatums and threats.

Mr Kapeya said the process was on track and on schedule contrary to some stakeholders who had raised doubts over Government’s commitment to deliver a people-driven Constitution.

He said the Government had not made any decisive and substantive pronouncement on the scope and direction on the Constitution following the completion of the Draft Constitution by the Technical Committee engaged to draft the document.

The minister said it was grossly unfair and unfortunate for some sections of society to accuse the Government of a hidden agenda over the Constitution-making process.

“This is a disciplined and responsible Government which will not abdicate its responsibility to deliver a Constitution that satisfies the will and wishes of the Zambian people,” he said.

Mr Kapeya, who is also Information and Broadcasting Services minister, said the PF Government had demonstrated its utmost commitment to transparency and the rule of law where nothing was swept under the carpet since it came into power.

He said President Michael Sata’s free, frank and objective approach to national issues was well documented and the meeting called by a consortium of CSOs and some political parties to pressurise the Government over the Constitution-making process was totally unnecessary.

The minister said while it is their democratic right to meet and discuss any issue of national interest, yesterday’s meeting at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross was unhelpful as there was no impasse over the ongoing Constitution-making process.

He advised the MMD not to be hypocritical because it failed to deliver a single paragraph of a people-driven Constitution for the 20 years it was in power.

“This level of pretence by the former ruling party is immoral and unacceptable. I challenge the MMD to account for its failure to give Zambians a Constitution of their wish and choice during the two decades the party was in power,” he said.

Mr Kapeya said that unlike the MMD, the PF Government had no intention to come up with a Constitution targeted at individuals, but rather one that aimed at uplifting the collective wellbeing and prosperity of the people.

He said the Government had resolved to work with all stakeholders in writing a Republican Constitution that would not only stand the test of time, but also embody people’s aspirations for a better and prosperous Zambia.

At the Cathedral of the Holly Cross gathering, Grand Coalition representative Beatrice Grillo said the final Draft Constitution should be released immediately to the people of Zambia.

Ms Grillo, who is also chairperson of the Non-governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) said the coalition also demanded for a legal frame work on the Constitution-making process and that a referendum should be a must.

United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema said a clear roadmap on the Constitution-making process should be provided, adding that whether President Sata liked it or not the people of Zambia would have a people-driven Constitution.

Mr Hichilema also said there was need for a legal framework that would protect the contents of the Constitution.

Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) president Frank Bwalya announced that he would soon start the Red Card Campaign on the Constitution.

Father Bwalya also urged political parties to speak with one voice on the Constitution-making process.

National Restoration Party president Elias Chipimo said there was need for Zambians to speak with one voice over the Constitution-making process.

Alliance for Democracy and Development president Charles Milupi said a good Constitution was cardinal to drive the nation forward, adding that this would bring about accountability.

Zambia Development Conference president Langton Sichone said the PF should deliver the promise of delivering a people-driven Constitution.

MMD vice-president Michael Kaingu said the PF should be mindful that it was the issue of the Constitution that cost his party in the 2011 elections.

Others who spoke are Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) vice-president George Chisanga, UNZASU president Steven Kyengula, Heritage Party president Godfrey Miyanda and a representative from the Civil Society Constitution Coalition Judith Mulenga.

 Times of Zambia