The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution maintains its principled stance and we hereby put on record that we strongly reject government’s decision to enact the constitution in a piecemeal manner through parliament.
The Grand Coalition states in no uncertain terms that the wisdom and will of the people of Zambia cannot be undermined in the manner the PF is doing and therefore citizens must rise to the occasion and reject the piecemeal amendments to the constitution.
It is amazing how government has thrown away its own crated draft roadmap in which it stated that it will make consultations with stakeholders on the constitution making process. The Grand Coalition is not aware which stakeholders were consulted when it came up with ‘contentious’ and non-Contentious clauses to take to parliament.
The government has announced that it will enact the new constitution through parliament in a piecemeal manner by taking to parliament ‘non-contentious’ clauses and subjecting the Bill of Rights and ‘contentious’ clauses to a referendum to be held simultaneously with the 2016 general elections.
The Grand Coalition calls on government to explain what these ‘contentious’ and ‘non-contentious’ clauses are in the constitution. The government seems to define as contentious anything that they perceive to contradict their interests.
From the stand-point of the Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution, the only articles identified by the national constitution conference as contentious are the recognition of the Barotseland Agreement of 1964 and the retention of the Death Penalty.
In this regard, we want to believe that the government will take the contentious Barotseland Agreement of 1964 and the Death penalty to the referendum since these two are the only contentious clauses in the constitution. Anything short of this is manipulation of both the content and the process.
It has become abundantly clear that the constitution making process has been sabotaged by those in power. The rights and aspirations of the people have been ignored owing to the lack of consultations, transparency, and accountability by the government in the finalization of the constitution.
The Grand Coalition calls on government to come clean on the constitution making process because the people of Zambia have lost trust and confidence in the ability of government to enact a good constitution for the country given the inconsistent pronouncements and actions in the constitution making process. Initially, the constitution making process was people driven through the district and provincial consultative processes that gathered citizen’s input into the draft. It is therefore disheartening that the people’s voices have been deliberately and maliciously obscured by individuals and groups of individuals who want to benefit from weak constitution.
Government has sabotaged the constitution making process, by adopting shortcuts and methods that have removed the people’s participation. The proposed constitution is not the property of government. The constitution belongs to the people and it is the people’s power that is vested in the constitution. The government is therefore mandated to listen to the people who own the constitution.
For/THE GRAND COALITION
Fr. Leonard Chiti