The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People-Driven Constitution (GC) says it has noted with interest that the Patriotic Front has finally seen the light and taken a position against the parliamentary route to constitution amendment by snubbing the appearance and submission to the committee on legal affairs.
Coalition chairperson Fr Leonard Chiti says It is encouraging to see that for once, the PF have chosen to see issues from the perspective of the Zambian People and stayed away from debating and altering the content of the final draft constitution which is the people’s voice.
Patriotic Front (PF) Secretary General Davies Chama told QFM news on Monday 16th November 2015 that the Patriotic Front Party had deliberately opted not to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs which is receiving submissions on the Constitution Bill which is before Parliament because they do not want to contradict the government position on the contents of the final draft constitution.
But Fr Chiti said the Grand Coation (GC) notes that the contents of the Constitution Amendment Bill (2015) reflect the voice and aspirations of the Zambian People, therefore should not be tampered with through debates.
Fr Chitit explained that, to this effect, on 21stOctober 2015, ‘the GC announced that it would decline a request from the National Assembly of Zambia through the Committee on Legal Affairs, Gender and Human Rights to make submissions on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2015 as this would be validating a process that was aimed at altering the contents of the draft through debates. The GC further appealed to all stakeholders earmarked to be invited to this committee to decline appearance so as not to legitimize this process.’
He explained that other organisations heeded the GC’s call and refused to appear before the Parliamentary Committee.
‘It is gratifying to note that among those who have taken the GC’s position seriously and heeded our appeal, is the Patriotic Front. The GC also notes that all the major political parties in Zambia have also stayed away from the parliamentary submission.
‘It is encouraging to see that for once, the PF have chosen to see issues from the perspective of the Zambian People and stayed away from debating and altering the content of the final draft constitution which is the people’s voice,’ Fr Chiti said.
He hoped that the government will take note of the disapproval of all its stakeholders – ‘including the ruling party — who have declined appearance before the committee to submit on the Constitution amendment bill (2015), and that our MPs will also take this into consideration when the constitution bill is presented to them’.
Fr Chiti said that the Grand Coalition maintains that the tabling of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2015 before the National Assembly of Zambia for debate and consequent amendments is a clear violation of the New Constitution, Better Lives for All
democratic practice in the constitution making process and also the PFs’ own manifesto.
He said it is the conviction of the Grand Coalition that Parliament has no power to give Zambians a new constitution which the PF government consistently promised them whilst in opposition and after being ushered into office.
‘While we commend the PF for listening to the people on the Parliamentary process, we now call on the PF leadership to engage the Minister of Justice on the constitution making process in order to revert to the promises they made to enact the constitution through a referendum,’ Fr Chiti said.
He said that the Grand Coalition stands by its position that the Parliamentary route is undemocratic and fraudulent and calls on all MPs who have the interests of the people at heart not to support such a process.