Non-Government Cordinating Council (NGOCC) Board Chairperson Sara Longwe says the Patriotic Front (PF) Government was de campaigning itself ahead of the 2016 Presidential, Parliamentary and local Government elections for failing to fulfill its campaign promises, especially the enactment of the new constitution.
Speaking at a media briefing, Tuesday May 19 2015, Ms Longwe said the ruling party had de-campaigned themselves sufficiently by failing to fulfill and betraying the Zambian people on a number of fronts.
“Let me remind the PF and President Lungu by quoting Article 22 of their own party manifesto (in part. D), which they are today disregarding;
“Under the MMD government the opportunity to have a new Constitution that reflects the will and aspirations of the people, and which could stand the test of time has once again eluded the Zambian people. The colossal expenditure of more than K135 billion incurred under the National Constitutional Conference has been a sheer waste of scarce resources that could have been applied to meaningful national development. This failed process has been nothing but a betrayal of the Zambian people. Additionally the rule of law, social justice and the justice delivery system have been compromised.
In order to redress the above the PF government shall:
- Establish in consultation with stakeholders a Committee of Experts to review the recommendations of all previous Constitutional Review Commissions in order to draft and present a constitution which will reflect the will and aspirations of the people for submission to a referendum and subsequent enactment only, by the National Assembly” she said.
She said in the run up to the January 20th 2015 Presidential by-election Lungu also promised the people of Zambia that he was committed to giving them a NEW Constitution before 2016.
She said NGOCC was deeply saddened and shocked with the Patriotic Front (PF) and Lungu for betraying the Zambian people on the Constitution making process. Ms Longwe said by enacting constitutional amendments in a phased manner, the PF and Lungu were disregarding the wishes of the Zambian people who have consistently insisted that the new Constitution must be adopted through a popular mode – the National Referendum in its entirety in order to protect the content.
“During all the successive constitution making processes, the Zambian people have been consistent in demanding that they want to give unto themselves a Constitution, which should be adopted through a national referendum while the PF government has continued to change goal posts over the enactment of a new Constitution.
“Yet, even in their party Manifesto of 2011, the PF promised the Zambian people that they would facilitate for the enactment of a new constitution that would be adopted through a National Referendum,’ she said.
She explained that NGOCC was insisting that the new Constitution should be adopted through a National Referendum for the fact that the organisation wants the Bill of Rights to be expanded.
“Our interest as the movement on behalf of the women and children of this country lies in the Bill of Rights to outlaw all forms of discrimination against women, girls and children.
“Therefore, any constitutional amendment devoid of the expansion of the Bill of Rights is meaningless for the women, girls and children of this country. The Bill of Rights is simply the core reason as to why a Constitution is needed – to safeguard the rights of all citizens and ensure that they are adequately guaranteed in the Constitution,” she said.
She said the social, economic and cultural rights as enshrined in the final Draft Constitution are critical for the well-being of women and children.
She said NGOCC was therefore at a loss that the PF-Government has decided that the National Referendum will only be held alongside the 2016 elections while they (PF and Lungu) “cherry pick” clauses which, according to them, are “non contentious” for enactment by Parliament.
“Who will decide what contentious and non-contentious issues are? Which agreed legal framework is the PF-Government using to follow this route?
“For the women’s movement, not opening the Bill of Rights to incorporate our human rights submissions is the contentious issue! We therefore demand that the Government rescinds its faulty decision and ensure that a National Referendum is held before the 2016 Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government elections,” she said.
She said there was still enough time to hold the referendum before the 2016 tripartite elections.
She however said that from the demonstrated changing goal-posts and dilly-dallying tactics, it was clear that the PF-Government lacks the necessary political commitment to facilitate the enactment of a truly people driven Constitution.
“We demand that the PF-Government listens to people’s consistent demands for an enactment of a new Constitution before the 2016 tripartite elections. To try and bully the whole country over the faulty process will not yield Zambia any benefits and is an affront to the promotion of a truly democratic dispensation that should accelerate national development and peace.
“We demand a National Referendum before the 2016 elections as our democratic right,” she said.
Last week on Wednesday, then acting Chief Government spokesperson and Justice Minister, Ngosa Simbyakula announced, in total disregard of the people’s expectations, that Cabinet had approved the proposal to commence the enactment to the Constitution by Parliament in a phased manner.
This would imply taking to the House non-contentious clauses in the Draft Constitution and subjecting the Bill of Rights to a National Referendum to be held simultaneously with the 2016 general elections.