Lusaka, 3rd June 2015
The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution in Zambia condemns the proposal by the Republican President H.E. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to unilaterally alter the contents of the draft constitution by deleting Article 296 of the final draft constitution.
This document was drafted by the Technical Committee Drafting the Zambian Constitution which was constituted in November 2011. The drafting was done after a review of all the constitutional review commission reports over the last forty years and after consultations with Zambian citizens at local, district, provincial and national level. The final draft constitution was validated through the same consultative processes through conventions. It is therefore unbecoming, undemocratic, disrespectful and unacceptable for the Republican President to unilaterally make a decision to drop any provisions in the draft in clear disregard of the will of the people of Zambia who put those provisions in the draft. This dictatorial tendency by the President must be stopped immediately.
This vindicates the concerns of the Grand Coalition that the current government cannot be trusted over the constitution reform process and that if left unchecked, they can alter the whole document to suit their selfish motives. The Grand Coalition is concerned that without a legal framework to guide the process, there is no guarantee that the interests of the people will be respected and protected. If the President can unilaterally drop a provision in the draft, what will stop him from dropping everything else that he does not like? In fact our fear is that this is only the beginning. This PF government will diminish and mutilate the draft document to suit their selfish motives. This is unbecoming and unacceptable. The only way of protecting the content of the draft constitution is to facilitate its adoption through a national referendum.
It is clear that the government has hijacked the constitution reform process for selfish motivations and this should not be tolerated by any well-meaning and good standing Zambian. The Grand Coalition warns the government to refrain from such selfish manoeuvres and prioritise the interests of the people.
We will not just sit and watch the people’s rights being undermined and trampled upon by a callous government that pretends to listen but choose to go it alone. We will continue to point out these injustices by the government against the same people who gave them the mandate to govern.
Issued by: Fr Leonard Chiti
Chairperson of the Grand Coalition