The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution is amazed by President Edgar Lungu’s hypocrisy by malingering on assenting to the amended constitution just because one person said something but ignored many people who voiced different views.
And the Coalitions says it has maintained its position that what was passed in Parliament two weeks ago is not a people-driven constitution, even if it contains some progressive clauses that the Grand Coalition has been campaigning for. ‘It cannot be people-driven without the comprehensive Bill of Rights that contains economic, social and cultural rights’ says Coalition chairperson Fr Leonard Chiti.
And the Coalition has vowed to relaunch the campaign for a people driven constitution.
‘The Grand Coalition therefore undertakes to campaign for the adoption and enactment of the Bill of Rights, as a natural move in the demand for a new people-driven constitution. As it stands, it is not clear what the government is planning to do with the Bill of Rights which the people had included in the final draft constitution.
‘The people made it clear that they wanted a new constitution, with a comprehensive Bill of Rights and that the new constitution must be adopted through a national referendum. It is time that we begin to see progress in this direction. The people know what they were promised and they are wise enough to see that the amendments that were passed in Parliament leave out a number of key provisions that would have given the people power they rightly deserve in the governance of the nation.,’ Fr Chiti said.
He explained that, the Grand Coalition will relaunch the campaign to specifically focus on the demand for the adoption of the Bill of Rights through a referendum, and its enactment in Parliament.
‘The Grand Coalition will announce a new team comprising three key member organisations of the coalition whose work is directly linked to the Bill of Rights to champion and lead this phase of the campaign. This structure will be called the Troika on the Bill of Rights and will champion the campaign. The Grand Coalition will unveil this structure in January 2016 during the official launch of the campaign for the adoption and enactment of the Bill of Rights,’ he said.
Fr Chiti said the Grand Coalition has been vindicated by the apparent lack of consensus within government and the ruling party, which has caused President Edgar Chagwa Lungu to delay assenting to the Constitutional Bill (2015), after promising the nation that he would assent to the Bill as soon as it was presented to him by Parliament.
‘It was also amazing to see how President Lungu would not assent to the Bill just because of one person’s petition when many citizens, including the Grand Coalition, opposition political parties, churches, trade unions and the Parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs had expressed their misgivings earlier which he ignored.
‘We challenge the President that if he truly values the views of other stakeholders in this process, he should consider the submissions by the people at district, provincial, sector groups and national level since the citizens of this country are the most important stakeholders in the constitution making process. They made their position very clear through submissions that were put together to produce the final draft constitution. No stakeholder is bigger or more important than the people who made their submissions in a very systematic way in a process facilitated by this very government.
‘We further challenge the President as he promises to publicly assent to the Amendment Constitutional Bill at the Heroes Stadium on a date unknown to itemise the contents of the comprehensive Bill of Rights and clearly state the plans towards adoption and enactment,’ Fr Chiti said.
He further said that the Coalition hopes that Lungu would also explain to the women, youths and persons with disability the implications of the left out mixed members proportional representation on their opportunity to play a role in the governance of the country, as well as the implications of the throwing out of the devolution of power to the provinces.
‘In conclusion, we emphasise that one cannot speak of a people driven constitution when the Bill of Rights is not a part of it. It is the Bill of Rights that addresses the welfare of the ordinary citizens, and without it, the welfare of ordinary people remains left out,’ Father Leonard Chiti said.