LUSAKA 15TH MAY, 2019. I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone that sacrificed their time to come and participate at this important national undertaking, the National Dialogue Forum.
The Forum has sat for a total number of 16 days from the initial ten days that were provided for in the National Dialogue Act of 2019. The Minister of Justice had to extend the sittings of the Forum in order to effectively attend to all the Bills that were before the Forum.
As you may be aware members of the Press, the mandate of the Forum was to Facilitate the implementation of resolutions that were made on 12th June, 2018, in Siavonga by Secretaries-General of political parties relating to Constitutional and institutional reforms.
The Forum was further to facilitate the Constitution refinement process and regulation of political parties, public order and electoral process reforms.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am pleased to inform you that the Forum has adopted the following proposed laws for possible enactment by Parliament:
The draft Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, 2019
the draft Electoral Process (Amendment) Bill, 2019
the draft Public Order Bill, 2019
The Forum has made the following amendments to the Constitution Bill 2019
Revised the preamble to confirm that indeed Zambia remains a Christian nation by removing the words multi religious.
Adopted the principle for formation of coalition government where the candidates fail to reach the 50% plus one threshold provided the parties to a coalition government manage to galvanize the total of 50 percent plus one
Confirm that the National Assembly shall only dissolve at the date of the general election to allow Members of Parliament complete their full 5 year term
Provide for entry of women and marginalized groups in Parliament and Councils through the mixed member electoral system
Affirm our people’s right to freedom of conscience by removing Section 9 clause 1 of the Public Order Bill which penalized people who refuse to sing the national anthem. This means that it is not mandatory for any group to sing the national anthem except at public functions
Revise the period for hearing of a presidential petition to 30 calendar days from the 14 days
Provide for the appointment of deputy Ministers
Further, civil servants intending to seek political office must resign from their jobs two years before elections.
On the draft Electoral Process Bill, 2019, the following amendments have been proposed
Reduced the campaign period from three months to sixty days
Provided for the independent candidates to select their symbols from the list made available by the Commission
Provide for the Commission to publish the election time table in a national wide circulation in addition to the gazette
And the provision of a coalition government.
On the Public Oder Bill, 2019, the following proposed amendments have been made:
Provide for the enjoyment of the right of freedom of assemble and association
Regulate the conduct of public gatherings for the preservation of public order.
We wish to assure you that in the process of validating and refining the Bills, has been very open and transparent as you may be aware that all the proceedings were live on Parliament radio and TV.
The process has just started as I indicated earlier on that this is work in progress, the Bills will then go to parliament where they will be enacted into law.
As a Forum Am happy to inform you that we have completed our task and the resolutions have since been adopted as you have witnessed.
I thank you all and God bless you.
Issued by Forum Secretary,
Mr. Patrick Chisanga.