The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution remains strongly opposed to moves by the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) to not only unilaterally amend the constitution in a piecemeal manner, but now to also unilaterally select the so-called non-contentious issues.
Coalition vice chairperson Sara Longwe says, ‘On Monday, we were alarmed by media reports that the Cabinet Office had instructed PF Members of Parliament to caucus on which clauses of the Final Draft Constitution are contentious and which ones are not contentious. The Grand Coalition finds this move by the PF to be an affront to the people’s wishes to have a wholesome adoption of the new people driven constitution through a referendum and final enactment by Parliament.’
Longwe said ‘as the Grand Coalition, we out rightly reject and condemn this approach in the strongest of terms. We view the PF’s choosing own contentious and non-contentious issues as the biggest joke we have had since they took over power. We are appalled how a ruling party can go to such extents to disregard not only the people’s wishes but also its own manifesto.’
Longwe However said ‘this does not come as a complete surprise taking into consideration how the Minister of Justice Ngosa Simbyakula, last week, on the floor of Parliament, attempted to sneak into the already gazetted Referendum Amendment Bill a proposal of making the Electoral Commission of Zambia to also function as the Referendum Commission during a debate on the proposed Referendum Amendment Bill contrary to what his own Ministry had earlier drafted in the Bill and presented to Parliament, a move that was a clear abrogation of Parliament’s procedure.’
Longwe also wonders why the government has left the decision on such a national issue to a political party.
She said ‘the constitution is very clear in Article 1 Paragraph 2 that powers to decide on such constitutional matters is in the hands of the citizens themselves, and not through political party platforms.’
She said ‘this is evidence that the PF Government cannot be trusted. We want to remind the PF that the Cabinet Office is not a PF party structure but an office for all Zambians and that we as Zambians rejected the party and its government (PIG) in 1991 when we decided to revert to multi party governance.’
Longwe said the Coalition is calling upon on all Members of Parliament to stand with the citizens who sent them as their representatives to Parliament in rejecting these underhand moves by the Patriotic Front Government.