The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution in Zambia has continued with its initiative to engage traditional leaders on the constitution making process.
Coalition Chairperson Fr. Leonard Chiti and coalition members Mr John Lijimu (CSPR board chairperson) and Ms Pamela Chisanga (ActionAid Zambia Country Director) on Thursday 4th June 2015 visited Chiefs Mumena and Kapijimpanga of North Western Province.
During the discussions with the Grand Coalition members, the two Chiefs expressed concern on Article 296 which states:- (1) Land is vested in the President and held by the President in trust for, and on behalf of, the people of Zambia. (2) Land shall be administered and controlled for the common benefit of the people of Zambia.
The Grand Coalition notes that some of the concerns raised by traditional leaders that have been met so far relate to Article 294 of the first draft constitution which defined both customary and state land. This article was deleted in the final draft constitution. It is clear that the technical committee took into consideration the concerns raised by various stakeholders, including traditional leaders and accordingly removed this provision from the final draft.
Further, it is now becoming apparent that other pieces of legislation, such as those relating to mines and minerals development are the ones that are contentious and not necessarily the provisions of the final draft constitution. Concerns around mining rights and land acquisition for mining were noted as the major challenges for retention of land by communities. These are the concerns that the two traditional leaders in North Western province raised, particularly in relation to the issuance of mining licences.
The Grand Coalition notes that while these details are not elaborated in the current draft constitution but that the current draft does provide a framework through which land related legislation can be revised and land policy developed to address the challenges noted by the royal highnesses.
The Grand Coalition therefore calls on government to immediately provide copies of the final draft constitution to all traditional leaders in the country so that they can see that the contentious provision of Article 294 of the first draft that essentially classified almost all land as state land was deleted from the final draft.
The Grand Coalition also calls on government to state its position on Article 296 of the final draft constitution. The Grand Coalition is concerned that there seems to be consensus that the Presidency cannot be trusted with this resource (land) which does not inspire confidence in the Presidency by the citizens of the country.
The Grand Coalition’s visit to traditional leaders in North Western Province follows a similar one in Luapula Province. The next visit will be to traditional leaders in Central Province.
Fr Leonard Chiti
Grand Coalition Chairperson