The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution says it has observed that President Edgar Lungu has finally acknowledged that he set up the Constitution to fail by taking it Parliament.
On Thursday 19 November 2015, President Lungu said he if the constitutional amendment bill was not passed in parliament, he “will keep away from it” and vowed that he would not “touch it in future”.
It is not surprising that the President is predicting that the Constitution will be sabotaged in Parliament before the process has even started, because he knew all along that the Parliamentary Route to amending such a document was treacherous and risky. The President deliberately set up the whole process to fail by taking it to the wrong platform.
The GC has consistently advocated against this route for the very reason that it is treacherous and would subject the constitution to failure. The GC therefore asserts that President Lungu cannot wash his hands off the constitution at this moment, when it has been his intention all along, to see the process fail. This is because the Patriotic Front does not want the new constitution to be enacted in their lifetime as a ruling party altogether. From the time they saw that the draft constitution was progressive and would ensure good governance, the President and his party have never been interested in delivering it because the PF seems to be not interested in fostering good governance in this country.
The President wants to hoodwink the people of Zambia so that they can blame the parliamentarians and the opposition for the PF’s failure to deliver a new constitution before 2016, a snare the GC was very much aware from the beginning when the Government abandoned its position of cherry picking clauses for amendment. The people of Zambia are not foolish and they cannot be easily misled. We all know that it is President Lungu and his party the Patriotic Front who do not want a new constitution because it will give more power to the people.
What kind of a leader who “washes off” his hands on his responsibilities, after having made so many public promises to deliver a new constitution during the campaign? The Grand Coalition hereby reminds the President that if he washes off his hands on the constitution, he would have also washed off his hands on the Presidency, and people of Zambia will wash him off from that office in 2016 too.
The Grand Coalition is aware that the PF have already decided which provisions they do not want and we have been reliably informed that they plan to drop all the progressive provisions and retain the provisions on dual citizenship, the date of the election and the renaming of the Police Force to Police Service. We know that they have even taken steps in pursuit of this scheme, by engaging some Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) MPs to support them. This is unacceptable.
Whatever fails in Parliament cannot be blamed on the opposition because it is the PF that has a majority, and they have also joined forces with the MMD. The PF have 87 Members of Parliament, while the opposition parties and independent MPs hold combined total of 71 seats. Out of the 71 opposition MPs, 12 have been appointed to the PF Government as Ministers, Deputy Ministers and provincial ministers. This means practically, the PF has at least 109 MPs pushing its agenda in the National Assembly. So if there is any scheme to make the constitution fail in Parliament, it is by the PF.
On our part as the Grand Coalition, we have been consistent and principled that the Parliamentary route to amend a people’s document is undemocratic, treacherous, fraudulent, retrogressive, counter-productive and undermines the power vested in the people by the constitution.
The Grand Coalition will continue to remind the people of Zambia who are the real bosses that their servants – the President and the Patriotic Front – have failed on their task to deliver a new constitution and should therefore pave way for servants who will act in line with their bosses’ aspirations. The people of Zambia are the bosses, and the President and his party should not think they would be doing us any favour by delivering a new constitution because that is their responsibility. If they fail on that responsibility, the people of Zambia will chuck them out in 2016. To this end, the GC strongly believes that the failure of this process in parliament which has become the graveyard for draft constitutions in Zambia, lies squarely on the President’s head, shoulder and hands and he cannot escape blame.
Fr Leonard Chiti
Grand Coalition Chairperson
New Constitution, Better Lives for All