Women reject Bill 10

 

– Withdrawal Bill 10, with its attendant ammendement
– Constitution should not be a product of coercion and manipulation
– It should be a product of consensus and national building

The Non-governmental Gender Organisations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has reiterated its position that Governmennt should withdraw Bill 10 in its entirety together with the re-gazetted Bill.

And NGOCC says, the Constitution should not be a product of coercion and manipulation, “but it should be a product of consensus and nation building.”

The NGOO explained that the re-gazetted Bill, does not address the many concerns by stakeholders and also does not necessarily reflect all the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee and in some instances, there is a contradiction between what is proposed and what the Select Committee recomm

The constitution reform process continues to be a source of discontent in the country and it is important that this process is focused on building a strong foundation for national development. The Women’s movement has been advocating for a people-driven constitution for a long time, and one that will address the many shortcomings in the country’s constitutional order. Our analysis of Bill 10 in its original form and now the re-gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary amendments, highlights the many shortcomings with the whole constitution making process and it is important that there is still need for broad-based consensus on the way forward.

Therefore, as NGOCC we reiterate our position that Bill 10 should be withdrawn in its entirety together with the re-gazetted Bill. The Constitution should not be a product of coercion and manipulation; it should be a product of consensus and nation building.

See full statement below :

STATEMENT BY THE NGOCC BOARD CHAIRPERSON MS. MARY S. MULENGA DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON THURSDAY, 18TH JUNE 2020, AT NGOCC SECRETARIAT

NGOCC BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT,
THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
LEADERS OF NGOCC MEMBER ORGANISATIONS PRESENT,
DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

May I begin by welcoming you all once again to NGOCC and to this press conference to discuss a very important national issue – the constitution making process with particular reference to the proposed Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill published in the Government Gazette No. 534 on Friday, 12th June 2020, which according to the Minister of Justice, incorporates the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee. Tomorrow, Members of Parliament will once again be called to make an important decision on the Constitution, as they vote on Bill 10.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the women’s movement, NGOCC has analysed the Gazette document. As always, we want to put things into perspective. Let me remind you that because of the importance we attach to constitution making like many stakeholders, we did participate in the National Dialogue Forum purely in the spirit of taking our democratic dispensation forward but did write to Ministry of Justice where we raised concerns regarding the process as well as the issues that were to be deliberated upon.

Nonetheless, Bill 10 came and as we are all aware many stakeholders including NGOCC, had raised concerns on a number of Articles in the Bill and our conclusion was that the said Bill be withdrawn to allow for consensus building. On 12th June 2020, Government, through the Ministry of Justice, published Government Gazette No. 534 Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019 with proposed Parliamentary Amendments. It is however, our considered view that the document does not address the many concerns that stakeholders have been raising about Bill 10 and the whole constitutional reform process. NGOCC wishes to reaffirm that a credible and broadly accepted process is an important catalyst in moving stakeholders to the next phases of discussing and arriving on content. In this way the process will engender trust and ensure that all voices are fully heard before any resolutions are arrived at.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In analyzing the four key documents under reference – Constitution Bill 10, NGOCC submission to Parliament, recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee and the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments, NGOCC would like to state the following:

1. Mixed Member Electoral System (MMES)
While NGOCC agrees with the general principle that the Mixed Members Electoral System (MMES) should ideally improve the representation of women, youth and the marginalized groups, there is no indication of how this electoral system will work. NGOCC contends that in order to appreciate the extent to which women’s participation in decision making will be enhanced, Article 47(2) read together with Article 68, should indicate, the number of Members of Parliament who will be elected on the First-Past-The-Post basis and the number of Members who will come through the Proportional Representation mechanism. In addition, the electoral system should be firmly defined in the Constitution and not subjected to frequent changes through subsidiary legislation. If this detail of the composition of the National Assembly under the MMES is not included in the Constitution, there is a possibility of changes which may come through a simple majority vote to an Act of Parliament. NGOCC further takes note that the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC) in its 2005 Report proposed a formulation which gave certainty on how the Mixed Member Electoral System would work. The Committee recommended that there be an addition of thirty (30) Proportional Representation-based seats. These seats were to be allocated to political parties on the basis of the proportion of votes received in the first-past-the-post constituency election, with a five percent threshold. Proportional Representation Members of Parliament were proposed to be drawn from party lists provided by political parties. ERTC made an important recommendation that to participate in the Proportional Representation segment of the electoral system, a political party was required to field at least thirty percent (30%) women as candidates in the Constituency based elections.

Further, the 2005 Draft Constitution prepared by the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission, had a similar provision which assured women of fair representation. In Article 105 (3) under the Electoral systems and principles, it was proposed that – “the electoral system shall ensure that representation of each gender is not less than thirty percent of the total number of seats in the National Assembly, local authority or other elective body, and shall ensure equitable representation of persons with disabilities and the youth.”

This is the level of detail that is missing in the current discussion on Bill 10. Government has merely shown its intent to have the MMES without really explaining in broad terms, the system as it will be implemented.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Other provisions that were raised in NGOCC submission and not adequately addressed by the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments:

2. Article 68 – Election and Composition of National Assembly
NGOCC recognizes the role of the legislature as an important aspect of governance of a country and the composition and functions of such a body should not be the subject of frequent changes by being relegated to subsidiary legislation. The Parliamentary Select Committee report acknowledges this principle which sadly is missing in the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments.

3. Article 81 – Term and Prorogation of Parliament
NGOCC has observed that there is an apparent inconsistency on the question of dissolution of the National Assembly. In the re-Gazetted Bill, there is a reversal of the earlier decision in the original Bill 10 to repeal Article 72 on Vacation of Office as Members of Parliament. The proposed amendments to Article 81 starting with 81(1) indicate that the term of Parliament shall be five years commencing from the date that the Members of Parliament are sworn into office after a general election and ending on the date of the next general election. Consequently, Article 81(3) which provides for Parliament to stand dissolved ninety days before the holding of the next general election is proposed to be repealed in the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments. The implication of this is that both Members of Parliament and Ministers will stay in office even during the election campaign period.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

NGOCC reiterates its submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee that the practice of dissolving Parliament during the electoral campaigning period assists to ensure fairness among competing candidates. Left in this proposed state, the ruling party Members of Parliament will have an unfair advantage against other persons standing in their constituencies, particularly women, as they would have access to all state resources and systems. This also takes away the internal democratic processes, which in most cases negatively impact on women comparatively to their male counterparts. It is NGOCC’s considered view that, left in its proposed state, this provision puts to question how the adoption processes will be conducted if other candidates are already ministers during the process of campaigns.

NGOCC, therefore, supports the Parliamentary Select Committee’s recommendation that Article 81 be amended to provide for the National Assembly to be dissolved at least sixty (60) days before the next general election.

4. Article 154 (2) Mayor, Deputy Mayor or Deputy Council Chairperson
Public service delivery takes place at the local level and civic leaders are important in fostering development. Zambia has over the years witnessed the erosion of the roles played by Mayors and Councillors and the politicization of local government. The 2016 amendments to the constitution which allowed for direct election of Mayors or Council Chairpersons, was an important forward step. These elected officials serve with full confidence of the people and are in some ways insulated from political interferences. The proposal for Mayors and Council Chairpersons to be elected from among councilors changes the loyalties of these officials back to their political parties and not the people. Mayors and Council Chairpersons will be more aligned to serving the interests of the party and not the people. Further, election of these civic leaders using internal processes, will make it hard for women to be considered for these positions and this will most likely lead to an even lower number of women in such positions.

The second issue of concern and whose basis is difficult to see, is the proposal for Mayors and Council Chairpersons to serve a two and half-year term. The constitution and the original Bill 10 have a five-year term of office. The Select Committee did not address this issue of varying the term of office. We note however, that the re-Gazetted Bill on proposed Parliamentary Amendments have introduced a new provision under Article 154 (2) (b) and we wonder where this proposal is coming from and what its basis is?

CONCLUSIONS AND WAY FORWARD

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having reviewed the re-gazetted Constitution (Amendment) Bill with NGOCC’s submission to Parliament and the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee report, in line with the current developments in the country, NGOCC concludes as follows:

The re-gazetted Bill, does not address the many concerns by stakeholders and also does not necessarily reflect all the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee and in some instances, there is a contradiction between what is proposed and what the Select Committee recommended.

The constitution reform process continues to be a source of discontent in the country and it is important that this process is focused on building a strong foundation for national development. The Women’s movement has been advocating for a people-driven constitution for a long time, and one that will address the many shortcomings in the country’s constitutional order. Our analysis of Bill 10 in its original form and now the re-gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary amendments, highlights the many shortcomings with the whole constitution making process and it is important that there is still need for broad-based consensus on the way forward.

Therefore, as NGOCC we reiterate our position that Bill 10 should be withdrawn in its entirety together with the re-gazetted Bill. The Constitution should not be a product of coercion and manipulation; it should be a product of consensus and nation building.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND GOD BLESS MOTHER ZAMBIA

STATEMENT BY THE NGOCC BOARD CHAIRPERSON MS. MARY S. MULENGA DURING A PRESS CONFERENCE HELD ON THURSDAY, 18TH JUNE 2020, AT NGOCC SECRETARIAT

NGOCC BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT,
THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
LEADERS OF NGOCC MEMBER ORGANISATIONS PRESENT,
DISTINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS
MEMBERS OF THE PRESS
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

May I begin by welcoming you all once again to NGOCC and to this press conference to discuss a very important national issue – the constitution making process with particular reference to the proposed Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill published in the Government Gazette No. 534 on Friday, 12th June 2020, which according to the Minister of Justice, incorporates the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee. Tomorrow, Members of Parliament will once again be called to make an important decision on the Constitution, as they vote on Bill 10.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the women’s movement, NGOCC has analysed the Gazette document. As always, we want to put things into perspective. Let me remind you that because of the importance we attach to constitution making like many stakeholders, we did participate in the National Dialogue Forum purely in the spirit of taking our democratic dispensation forward but did write to Ministry of Justice where we raised concerns regarding the process as well as the issues that were to be deliberated upon.

Nonetheless, Bill 10 came and as we are all aware many stakeholders including NGOCC, had raised concerns on a number of Articles in the Bill and our conclusion was that the said Bill be withdrawn to allow for consensus building. On 12th June 2020, Government, through the Ministry of Justice, published Government Gazette No. 534 Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019 with proposed Parliamentary Amendments. It is however, our considered view that the document does not address the many concerns that stakeholders have been raising about Bill 10 and the whole constitutional reform process. NGOCC wishes to reaffirm that a credible and broadly accepted process is an important catalyst in moving stakeholders to the next phases of discussing and arriving on content. In this way the process will engender trust and ensure that all voices are fully heard before any resolutions are arrived at.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In analyzing the four key documents under reference – Constitution Bill 10, NGOCC submission to Parliament, recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee and the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments, NGOCC would like to state the following:

1. Mixed Member Electoral System (MMES)
While NGOCC agrees with the general principle that the Mixed Members Electoral System (MMES) should ideally improve the representation of women, youth and the marginalized groups, there is no indication of how this electoral system will work. NGOCC contends that in order to appreciate the extent to which women’s participation in decision making will be enhanced, Article 47(2) read together with Article 68, should indicate, the number of Members of Parliament who will be elected on the First-Past-The-Post basis and the number of Members who will come through the Proportional Representation mechanism. In addition, the electoral system should be firmly defined in the Constitution and not subjected to frequent changes through subsidiary legislation. If this detail of the composition of the National Assembly under the MMES is not included in the Constitution, there is a possibility of changes which may come through a simple majority vote to an Act of Parliament. NGOCC further takes note that the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC) in its 2005 Report proposed a formulation which gave certainty on how the Mixed Member Electoral System would work. The Committee recommended that there be an addition of thirty (30) Proportional Representation-based seats. These seats were to be allocated to political parties on the basis of the proportion of votes received in the first-past-the-post constituency election, with a five percent threshold. Proportional Representation Members of Parliament were proposed to be drawn from party lists provided by political parties. ERTC made an important recommendation that to participate in the Proportional Representation segment of the electoral system, a political party was required to field at least thirty percent (30%) women as candidates in the Constituency based elections.

Further, the 2005 Draft Constitution prepared by the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission, had a similar provision which assured women of fair representation. In Article 105 (3) under the Electoral systems and principles, it was proposed that – “the electoral system shall ensure that representation of each gender is not less than thirty percent of the total number of seats in the National Assembly, local authority or other elective body, and shall ensure equitable representation of persons with disabilities and the youth.”

This is the level of detail that is missing in the current discussion on Bill 10. Government has merely shown its intent to have the MMES without really explaining in broad terms, the system as it will be implemented.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Other provisions that were raised in NGOCC submission and not adequately addressed by the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments:

2. Article 68 – Election and Composition of National Assembly
NGOCC recognizes the role of the legislature as an important aspect of governance of a country and the composition and functions of such a body should not be the subject of frequent changes by being relegated to subsidiary legislation. The Parliamentary Select Committee report acknowledges this principle which sadly is missing in the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments.

3. Article 81 – Term and Prorogation of Parliament
NGOCC has observed that there is an apparent inconsistency on the question of dissolution of the National Assembly. In the re-Gazetted Bill, there is a reversal of the earlier decision in the original Bill 10 to repeal Article 72 on Vacation of Office as Members of Parliament. The proposed amendments to Article 81 starting with 81(1) indicate that the term of Parliament shall be five years commencing from the date that the Members of Parliament are sworn into office after a general election and ending on the date of the next general election. Consequently, Article 81(3) which provides for Parliament to stand dissolved ninety days before the holding of the next general election is proposed to be repealed in the re-Gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary Amendments. The implication of this is that both Members of Parliament and Ministers will stay in office even during the election campaign period.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

NGOCC reiterates its submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee that the practice of dissolving Parliament during the electoral campaigning period assists to ensure fairness among competing candidates. Left in this proposed state, the ruling party Members of Parliament will have an unfair advantage against other persons standing in their constituencies, particularly women, as they would have access to all state resources and systems. This also takes away the internal democratic processes, which in most cases negatively impact on women comparatively to their male counterparts. It is NGOCC’s considered view that, left in its proposed state, this provision puts to question how the adoption processes will be conducted if other candidates are already ministers during the process of campaigns.

NGOCC, therefore, supports the Parliamentary Select Committee’s recommendation that Article 81 be amended to provide for the National Assembly to be dissolved at least sixty (60) days before the next general election.

4. Article 154 (2) Mayor, Deputy Mayor or Deputy Council Chairperson
Public service delivery takes place at the local level and civic leaders are important in fostering development. Zambia has over the years witnessed the erosion of the roles played by Mayors and Councillors and the politicization of local government. The 2016 amendments to the constitution which allowed for direct election of Mayors or Council Chairpersons, was an important forward step. These elected officials serve with full confidence of the people and are in some ways insulated from political interferences. The proposal for Mayors and Council Chairpersons to be elected from among councilors changes the loyalties of these officials back to their political parties and not the people. Mayors and Council Chairpersons will be more aligned to serving the interests of the party and not the people. Further, election of these civic leaders using internal processes, will make it hard for women to be considered for these positions and this will most likely lead to an even lower number of women in such positions.

The second issue of concern and whose basis is difficult to see, is the proposal for Mayors and Council Chairpersons to serve a two and half-year term. The constitution and the original Bill 10 have a five-year term of office. The Select Committee did not address this issue of varying the term of office. We note however, that the re-Gazetted Bill on proposed Parliamentary Amendments have introduced a new provision under Article 154 (2) (b) and we wonder where this proposal is coming from and what its basis is?

CONCLUSIONS AND WAY FORWARD

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Having reviewed the re-gazetted Constitution (Amendment) Bill with NGOCC’s submission to Parliament and the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee report, in line with the current developments in the country, NGOCC concludes as follows:

The re-gazetted Bill, does not address the many concerns by stakeholders and also does not necessarily reflect all the recommendations of the Parliamentary Select Committee and in some instances, there is a contradiction between what is proposed and what the Select Committee recommended.

The constitution reform process continues to be a source of discontent in the country and it is important that this process is focused on building a strong foundation for national development. The Women’s movement has been advocating for a people-driven constitution for a long time, and one that will address the many shortcomings in the country’s constitutional order. Our analysis of Bill 10 in its original form and now the re-gazetted Bill with proposed Parliamentary amendments, highlights the many shortcomings with the whole constitution making process and it is important that there is still need for broad-based consensus on the way forward.

Therefore, as NGOCC we reiterate our position that Bill 10 should be withdrawn in its entirety together with the re-gazetted Bill. The Constitution should not be a product of coercion and manipulation; it should be a product of consensus and nation building.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH AND GOD BLESS MOTHER ZAMBIA

Share this post