What Pentecostal Bishops said on draft constitution

PRESS BRIEFING

PENTECOSTAL ASSEMBLIES OF GOD -ZAMBIA (PAOG-Z)

COUNCIL OF BISHOPS

STATEMENT ON THE FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION AND CLOSURE OF THE COMMUNITY CONSULTATIVE FORA PHASE

DELIVERED BY

CHIEF BISHOP HARRISON S. SAKALA

On Wednesday, 1st August, 2012 

  • MY COLLEGUES ON THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL OF THE

PAOG-Z COUNCIL OF BISHOPS

  • EFZ BOARD MEMBERS
  • LEADERS OF DENOMINATIONS & OTHER PARTNER MINISTRIES
  • DITINGUISHED INVITED GUESTS
  • MEMBERS OF THE PRESS
  • LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

GOOD MORNING TO YOU ALL:

THANK YOU, FOR RESPONDING TO OUR INVITATION AS WE PRESENT OUR STATEMENT WHICH IS A REFLECTION OF OUR POSITION ON THE FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION FOLLOWING THE END OF THE SCHEDULED PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY CONSTITUTION CONSULTATIVE FORA PERIOD.

WE SEEK, THROUGH YOU ALL, TO HAVE THIS MESSAGE RELAYED TO THE CITIZENS OF OUR BELOVED NATION AT THIS IMPORTANT TIME.

WE, AS A FELLOWSHIP, FELT IT AN HONOUR TO PARTNER WITH PATRIOTS WORLDWIDE TO SUPPORT AND HELP FACILITATE THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION EVALUATION FORA WHICH WE HAVE CONDUCTED COUNTRY WIDE.

OUR CRITICAL CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT IN THE PROCESS IS DESIGNED TO ENSURE THAT THE CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS IS TRULY PEOPLE DRIVEN.

WE HAVE BEEN ENGAGED IN CRITICAL CONSTRUCTIVE EVALUATION OF BOTH THE PROCESS AND THE CONTENTS OF THE FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION.

AS COMMUNITY LEADERS, WE ARE AWARE THAT THE CONSTITUTION GETS ITS LEGITIMACY FROM THE PEOPLE. THUS, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ENSURE THAT BOTH THE PROCESS AND THE CONTENTS ARE NOT CONTROLLED BY THE PRIVILEDGED ONLY, OR JUST THE POLITICAL ELITE OF OUR SOCIETY.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

THE CHURCH TAKES FULL COGNISANCE OF THE FACT THAT IN THE NOT TOO DISTANT PAST, ZAMBIA ENGAGED IN A COSTLY ABORTIVE CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS WHICH WE EQUALLY PARTICIPATED IN.

IT IS AGAINST THIS BACKDROP THAT WE THINK THAT AS CITIZENS, ONCE AGAIN, WE CONSTRUCTIVELY PARTICPATE IN THE PROCESS TO ENSURE THAT THE FINAL DRAFT IS A REFLECTION OF THE ASPIRATIONS OF THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE.

AS THE NEXT PHASE COMMENCES, WE AS A CHURCH DEMAND FOR CONTINUED TRANSPARENCY IN THE PROCESS, BACKED BY A CLEAR LEGAL FRAMEWORK TO GUIDE THE PROCEEDINGS. WE TAKE THE VIEW THAT POLITICAL BRINKMANSHIP WILL RESULT IN A FAILED CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS. WE ALSO WANT TO UNDERSCORE THE POINT THAT THIS CONSTITUTION IS NOT JUST A PRESERVE OF THE POLITICAL ELITE, BUT A PROCESS FOR ALL CITIZENS.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

OUR STATEMENT TODAY FALLS INTO THE FOLLOWING SEVEN CONSIDERATIONS:

1. THE RELEASE OF THE FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION

2. THE PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY CONSULTATIVE FORA

3. THE CONSTITUTION MAKING ROAD MAP

4. LACK OF A LEGAL FRAMEWORK

5. THE REFERENDUM COMMISSION AND THE CURRENT

REFERENDUM ACT

6. INTERNATIONAL INTERESTS

7.  GENERAL CROSSCUTTING MATTERS OF NATIONAL CONCERN

1. THE RELEASE OF THE FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION:

 LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

SINCE THE LAUNCH OF THE FIRST DRAFT AND THE OPENING OF THE PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY CONSTITUTION CONSULTATION PERIOD, WE HAVE BEEN ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN THE PROCESS BY HELPING TO DISTRIBUTE COPIES OF THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION AS WELL AS CONVENING COMMUNITY CONSULTATIVE FORA ON THE CONSTITUTION.

WE HAVE ACTIVELY PARTICIPATED IN THE PERIODIC BRIEFINGS BY THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE AND IN THIS REGARD, WE COMMEND THEM FOR KEEPING AN ‘OPEN DOOR’ POLICY.  WE BELIEVE THEY ARE MAKING EARNEST EFFORTS TO FACILITATE THE DELIVERY OF A CONSTITUTION THAT WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME AND WE ASURE THEM OF OUR ONGOING PRAYERS.

FURTHER, WE HAVE HELD COMMUNITY CONSULTATION FORA IN MOST OF THE PROVINCIAL CAPITALS AND THESE INCLUDE SOUTHERN, CENTRAL, LUSAKA, COPPERBELT, LUAPULA, AND NORTHERN.  IN EACH OF THESE LOCATIONS, OUR CHURCHES HAVE DULY SUBMITTED, THROUGH RESPECTIVE DISTRICT COMMISSIONERS’ OFFICES, SPECIFIC REACTIONS AND PROPOSALS BASED ON THE CURRENT FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION.

WE ARE GARTEFUL TO YOU MEMBERS OF THE PRESS, WHO HAVE KEPT THE NATION INFORMED AS YOU HAVE FAITHFULLY REPORTED ON THE SAID EVENTS IN THE PAST FEW WEEKS.  WE HAVE APPRECIATED THE MEDIA COVERAGE AS OUR CHURCHES IN VARIOUS PARTS OF ZAMBIA HAVE BEEN MAKING SUBMISSIONS.

THEREFORE, OUR ADDRESS THIS MORNING WILL DWELL LARGELY ON OVER-ARCHING ATTENDANT PROCESSES RATHER THAN THE ACTUAL CONTENTS OF THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION.

ONE CONSISTENT PROBLEM WE DISCOVERED AS WE WENT AROUND THE COUNTRY WAS THAT THE MAJORITY OF OUR PEOPLE IN THE RURAL LOCATIONS DID NOT HAVE READY ACCESS TO THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION AND WE ESPECIALLY NOTED THAT THE VERNACULAR VERSION WAS LATE IN BEING PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTED.

THE ABOVE SCENARIO HAS LED TO GENERAL APATHY FROM SOME CITIZENS AS THEY DID NOT HAVE THE DRAFTS IN GOOD TIME FOR EVALUATION AND THEY COULD NOT ENGAGE IN THE PROCESS IN AN INFORMED MANNER.

WE ALSO OBSERVED THAT APART FROM THE CHURCH-LED AND SOME CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATION EFFORTS, FOR THE MOST PART, THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE OR NO SYSTEMATIC CIVIC EDUCATION ON THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION AND THE ENSUING PROCESSES.

2. THE PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY CONSULTATIVE FORA

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

WE ARE FULLY AWARE THAT THE COMMUNITY CONSTITUTION CONSULTATIVE FORA ARE THE CRITICAL FORMAL INPUT STAGE UPON WHICH THE DISTRICT, PROVINCIAL AND NATIONAL AND SECTOR GROUP CONVENTIONS WILL ANCHOR THEIR DELIBERATIONS. HOWEVER, WE REGRET TO STATE THAT THIS PROCESS HAS NOT BEEN PROPERLY GUIDED AND AS A RESULT THERE HAS NOT BEEN EFFECTIVE PARTICPATION BY THE GRASSROOTS IN THE PRIMARY INPUT STAGE.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS SCENARIO IS THAT THE DISTRICT CONVENTIONS AND PROVINCIAL CONVENTIONS ARE THE ONES WHO WILL DETERMINE LARGELY THE CONTENTS OF THE SECOND DRAFT CONSTITUTION.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

WITHOUT CASTING ANY NEGATIVE ASPERSIONS ON THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON DRAFTING THE CONSTITUTION, WE TAKE THE VIEW THAT A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE COMPOSITION OF DELEGATES TO THE DISTRICT, PROVINCIAL AND NATIONAL SECTOR CONVENTIONS REVEALS THAT THE POLITICAL ELITE AND CIVIL SERVANTS WILL HAVE AN IN-BUILT MAJORITY IN THE CONVENTIONS.

ADMITTEDLY, CIVIL SERVANTS ARE TECHNICAL EXPERTS IN VARIOUS FIELDS, BUT THEY DO NOT REPRESENT ANY CONSTITUENCY, PER SE, AND CANNOT BE SAID TO BE KEY STAKE HOLDERS IN THE STRICTEST SENSE OF THINGS. TOO MUCH INFLUENCE BY CIVIL SERVANTS WILL RESULT IN THE SECOND DRAFT CONSTITUTION BEING A GOVERNMENT PRODUCT AND NOT A PEOPLE-DRIVEN DOCUMENT, WHICH IT MAY BE RECALLED, WAS A VERY PROMINENT OUTCRY FROM SECTIONS OF THE PUBLIC DURING THE NCC PROCESS.

THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE IS MEANT TO BE INDEPENDENT. HOWEVER, IF THEY ARE PERCIEVED TO BE LEANING TOO MUCH TOWARDS THE GOVERNMENT, IT MAY GIVE RISE TO PUBLIC MISTRUST IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS. THUS, THE WHOLE PROCESS COULD BE SHROUDED BY SUSPICION.

 WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND CLEARLY WHY, FOR EXAMPLE, THE CHURCH AND RELIGIOUS GROUPS ARE CATEGORISED UNDER CIVIL SOCIETY. THIS IS A SERIOUS CATEGORY ERROR.

WE OBSERVE WITH DISMAY THAT, UNDER THE CURRENT GUIDELINES, A VERY INSIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF REPRESENTATIVES IS ALLOCATED TO CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE CHURCH. LOOKING AT THE CURENT NUMBERS, CIVIL SOCIETY AND CHURCH REPRESENTATIVES CANNOT HAVE SIGNIFICANT IMPACT WHEN IT COMES TO VOTING ON ISSUES ON THE FLOOR OF THE PRESCRIBED DISTRICT AND PROVINCIAL CONVENTIONS, AS WELL AS AT THE NATIONAL AND SECTOR CONVENTION.

 

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SITTING DOWN WITH THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON DRAFTING THE ZAMBIAN CONSTITUTION TO MUTUALLY WORK OUT MODALITIES FOR RECTIFYING THE SAID ERRORS BEFORE THEY EMBARK ON APPOINTMENTS OF DELEGATES FOR THE VARIOUS FORA AT DISTRICT, PROVINCIAL AND NATIONAL LEVELS.

 

WE HAVE OBSERVED THAT THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON DRAFTING THE ZAMBIAN CONSTITUTION HAS, FROM TIME TO TIME SINCE THEIR APPOINTMENT, EMPHASISED THAT “ANY LEGITIMATE PROCESS MAKES ALLOWANCE FOR MEANINGFUL CONSULTATIONS WITH STAKE HOLDERS…”

 

WE HAVE WELCOMED THIS STANCE, ALONG WITH THE FIRM INDICATION RECENTLY BY THE CHAIRMAN THAT THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE RECOGNISES THAT “A LEGITIMATE CONSTITUTION DERIVES ITS AUTHORITY FROM THE PEOPLE…”

WE ALSO WELCOME THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF AN EXTENSION FOR THE VERNACULAR SUBMISSIONS, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF THE FACT THAT, AS POINTED OUT ALREADY, THE VENARCULAR VERSION OF THE DOCUMENTS WERE PRINTED LATE.

WE ARE PLEASED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISTRIBUTION OF THESE COPIES TO ALL THE 10 PROVINCES.

SINCE THE DATES FOR FURTHER FORMAL PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS HAVE NOW BEEN ANNOUNCED AS FOLLOWS:

  • THE DISTRICT FORA (27TH -29TH AUGUST, 2012)
  • THE PROVINCIAL CONVENTIONS (8TH -14TH OCTOBER, 2012)
  • THE NATIONAL AND SECTOR GROUP CONVENTION (22ND OCTOBER -1ST NOVEMBER, 2012)

IT IS OUR INTENTION TO CONVENE A CONSULTATIVE MEETING WITH THE CHAIRMAN AND SOME REPRESENTATIVES OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO AS TO AGREE ON HOW THE IMBALANCE WE HAVE HIGHLIGHTED MIGHT BE ADDRESSED.

3. THE CONSTITUTION MAKING ROAD MAP

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

THE CURRENT GUIDELINES INDICATE THAT THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE WILL HAVE TO CONSIDER SUBMISSIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL  “EXPERTS”. WE BELIEVE THAT THE CURRENT TECHNICAAL COMMITTEE HAS ENOUGH EXPERTS TO ADVISE THE PROCESS AND YET A TEAM OF HIRED CONSULTANTS IS ENVISAGED AND EXPECTED TO GUIDE THE FINAL PROCESS.

WE ARE AWARE THAT THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IS TRYING TO SNEAK IN TRENDS AND PRACTICES THAT ARE FOREIGN TO ZAMBIANS AND MOST OF THE FOREIGN CONSULTANTS ARE LIKELY TO NEGATIVELY INFLUENCE THE WHOLE PROCESS, IN THIS REGARD.  WITH THIS IN MIND, WE CALL UPON THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE TO ENSURE THAT SUBMISSIONS OF THE FOREIGN “EXPERTS” IF ANY, BE OPEN AND SUBJECT TO EVALAUTION BY THE NATIONAL AND SECTOR GROUP CONVENTION ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENS OF ZAMBIA.

4. LACK OF A LEGAL FRAMEWORK

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

MANY STAKEHOLDERS HAVE CONTINUED TO CALL FOR THE ENACTMENT OF A RELEVANT PIECE OF LEGISLATION WHICH SHOULD GUIDE AND PROTECT THE CONSTITUION MAKING PROCESS. WE WISH TO ADD OUR VOICE TO THE MANY STAKEHOLDERS WHO ARE CALLING FOR CLEAR AND NECESSARY LEGAL SUPPORT FOR THE CURRENT PROCESS.

THE DANGER OF NOT HAVING LEGAL BACKING FOR THE PROCESS IS THAT ANY DISSATISFIED CITIZEN CAN LEGALLY CHALLENGE THE WHOLE PROCESS IN THE COURTS OF LAW. THIS MAY LEAD TO DELAYS AND UNDUE WASTAGE OF PUBLIC RESOURCES. GOVERNMENT SHOULD THEREFORE CONSIDER INTRODUCING LEGISLATION TO BACK AND UNDRGIRD THE CURRENT CONSTITUTION MAKING PROCESS.

5. THE REFERENDUM COMMISSION AND THE CURRENT    

    REFERENDUM ACT

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE HAS INDICATED THAT THE FINAL DRAFT CONSTITUTION WILL BE ADOPTED THROUGH A POPULAR REFERENDUM. WE ARE CONCERNED THAT IT IS NOT CLEAR YET WHAT THE KEY QUESTIONS FOR THE REFERENDUM WILL BE OR WHETHER VOTERS WILL BE ASKED TO VOTE ON THE CONSTITUTION IN ITS ENTIRETY.

WE WISH TO CALL UPON THE GOVERNMENT, AND THE PRESIDENT IN PARTICULAR, TO APPOINT A REFERENDUM COMMISSION AND AS WELL AS INITIATE A BILL TO AMEND THE CURRENT REFERENDUM ACT SO THAT IT RESPONDS TO THE DEMOCRATIC DISPENSATION IN WHICH WE LIVE.

AS MANY MAY BE AWARE, BY VIRTUE OF OUR CHERISHED FRATERNAL RELATIONS IN THE BODY OF CHRIST, WE WERE AND STILL ARE PART AND PARCEL OF THE EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF ZAMBIA (EFZ) STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS OF 4TH MAY, 2012 IN WHICH SOME KEY INADEQUECIES OF THE CURRENT REFERENDUM ACT WERE LAID BARE. WE REITERATE THE PRINCIPAL CONCERNS AS FOLLOWS:

  1. i.                     SECTION 4(2) OF CHAPTER 14 OF THE LAWS OF ZAMBIA STATES THE COMPOSITION OF THE REFERENDUM COMMISSION OF 3 PEOPLE INCLUDING THE CHAIRMAN.
  1. ii.                   SECTION 11 PROVIDES FOR REFERENDUM PETITION BUT SECTION 17 (2) (3) STATES THAT SECURITY COSTS MUST BE PAID BY THE PETITIONER WITHOUT WHICH UNDER SUB-SECTION 3 OF SECTION 17, THE PETITION SHALL BE DISMISSED.
  1. iii.                  SECTION 8 (6) PROVIDES FOR POSSIBLE APPOINTMENT OF THE DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS BUT IN THE REGULATIONS UNDER SECTION 56 IT GIVES FUNCTIONS OR POWERS OF THE DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS WHICH MEANS THAT THE REFERENDUM COMMISSION CANNOT DO WITHOUT THE DIRECTOR OF ELECTIONS.
  1. iv.                 SECTION 29(1) ONLY AUTHORIZES APPOINTED PERSONS TO ATTEND THE COUNTING OF THE VOTES AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ARE EXCLUDED. THERE APPEARS TO BE NO PROVISION FOR OBSERVERS.

AND, FURTHER THAT

  1. v.                   WHILE SECTION 57 OF THE REGULATIONS PROVIDES FOR CANVASSING, THERE IS RESTRICTION IN SECTION 61(2), (A) & (B), WHICH REQUIRES PRESENCE OF THOSE FOR AND AGAINST TO SPEAK, OTHERWISE THE MEETINGS SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED EXCEPT WHERE ONE FAILS TO SHOW UP

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

THESE REFERENDUM PROCEDURES IN THE CURRENT FORM ARE OUTDATED AND GROSSLY LOB-SIDED TOWARDS A STATE CONTROLLED MECHANISM THAT LEAVES LITTLE ROOM FOR MEANINGFUL PARTICIPATION BY THE CITIZENS.

WE CONTEND THAT IN THIS CONTEXT, MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC CANNOT FREELY BENEFIT FROM INDEPENDENT VIEWS BEFORE THEY FORM AN OPINION ON A REFERENDUM QUESTION. 

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

OUR TEAM HAS SEASONED AND EXPERIENCED ELECTORAL EXPERTS WHO HAVE PARTIPATED IN SIMILAR EXERCISES IN INTERNATIONAL SETTINGS. OUR EXAMINATION OF THE CURRENT GUIDLEINES AND ROAD MAP INDICATES THAT WE CANNOT HAVE THE CONSTITUION BY THE END OF THE YEAR 2012.

GIVEN THE COMPLEXITIES, FINANCIAL AND LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS OF ORGANIZING A NATIONAL ELECTION (REFERENDUM) AND TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE COMING RAINY SEASON WHICH IS BARELY THREE MONTHS AWAY, WE THINK THAT A REFERENDUM CANNOT POSSIBLY TAKE PLACE UNTIL THE SECOND QUARTER OF NEXT YEAR.

NOW, IT MAY BE POSSIBLE TO USE GOVERNMENT MUSCLE AND ABBREVIATE THE PROCESS BUT PRACTICALLY, OUR ROADS BECOME IMPASSABLE DURING THE RAINY SEASON AND MOST OF OUR RURAL VOTERS WILL BE BUSY WITH FARMING. WE CANNOT AFFORD TO DISENFRANCHISE THEM BY HOLDING THIS NATIONAL PROCESS DURING A FARMING SEASON.

6. INTERNATIONAL INTERESTS

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

WE ARE GRATEFUL TO OUR INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS’ SUPPORT TOWARDS ZAMBIA’S DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES. HOWEVER, WE ARE AWARE OF WELL-CRAFTED PLANS BY SOME DONORS AND/OR THEIR AGENCIES OR EVEN PROXIES, WHO ARE COVERTLY PRESSURISING FOR THE INCLUSION OF PRACTICES THAT ARE FOREIGN TO ZAMBIA.

IT IS OUR VIEW THAT DONORS MUST, IN ALL FAIRNESS AND SINCERITY, LET ZAMBIANS DECIDE ON THE PROCESSES AND CONTENTS OF THEIR CONSTITUTION.

THE CONCERNS WE RAISE, IN THIS RESPECT, ARE WELL FOUNDED, ESPECIALLY IN THE WAKE OF HIGH LEVEL PUBLIC PRONOUNCEMENTS MADE BY PROMINENT GLOBAL LEADERS WHO HAVE IN THE RECENT PAST BEEN HEARD TO REQUIRE NATIONS TO ACCEPT GAY RIGHTS AS CONDITIONALITIES FOR AID.

 

AS A MATTER OF PUBLIC CONCERN, IT IS IN THIS LIGHT THAT SOME OF OUR CHURCHES HAVE SUBMITTED TO THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE TO SPELL OUT CATEGORICALLY WHO THE MINORITY AND MARGINALISED GROUPS, IMPLIED IN ARTICLE 60 OF THE FIRST DRAFT CONSTITUTION, REALLY ARE.

WHILE NOTING THAT THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE RECENTLY ASSURED A CHURCH GATHERING IN LUSAKA THAT THERE WILL BE NO INCLUSION OF GAY RIGHTS IN THIS CONSTITUTION, THE CLARITY AND DEFINITION IS STILL NECESSARY.

THIS IS SO BECAUSE, WE DO NOT WANT TO END UP WITH A SITUATION WHERE ADVOCATES FOR HOMOSEXUALITY AND RELATED RIGHTS, SOONER OR LATER RESORT TO THE USE OR MISUSE ARTICLE 60 TO CHAMPION THEIR RIGHTS. IT IS OUR POSITION, AS ALREADY SUBMITTED, THAT THIS CONSTITUTION MUST CLEAR ANY DOUBT LINGERING IN THE MINDS OF THE CITIZENS AS TO WHAT MISCHIEF EXACTLY, THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED TO CURE.

WE WISH TO PUT IT ON RECORD THAT THE LIVES OF OUR CITIZENS ARE NOT FOR SALE. WE DESERVE THE LIBERTY TO FREELY ENSHRINE STRONG MORAL AND CHRISTAIN VALUES IN THE HIGHEST DOCUMENT OF THE LAND, INORDER TO PRESERVE POSTERITY.

7. GENERAL CROSSCUTTING MATTERS OF NATIONAL CONCERN:

WE ALSO WISH TO ADDRESS THE FOLLOWING CROSSCUTTING ISSUES OF CURRENT NATIONAL CONCERN:

A. POLITICS IN THE NATION:

WE WISH TO CALL UPON POLITICAL PLAYERS IN ALL POLITICAL PARTIES TO TONE DOWN ON POLITICAL BRINKMANSHIP AND MUDSLINGING CURRENTLY AT PLAY, INORDER TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN COLLECTIVELY GUIDE OUR CITIZENS TO EFFECTIVELY CONTRIBUTE TO PRODUCING A CONSTITUION THAT WILL RESPOND TRULY TO CURRENT AND FUTURE CHALLENGES AND STAND THE TEST OF TIME.

B. THE BRUTAL KILLINGS OF INNOCENT LIVES:

WE HAVE NOTED WITH IMMENSE SORROW AND TREPIDATION, THE RECENT BRUTAL KILLINGS OF INNOCENT INDIVIDUALS SUCH THE MERCILESS MURDER OF THE YOUNG LADY IN EMMASDALE, THE MURDERS IN SOLWEZI AND MANY OTHER TRAGIC LOSES OF LIVES AT THE HANDS OF THE PERPETRATORS OF SUCH GREVIOUS WICKEDNESS. WE CONDEMN THESE KILLINGS IN THE STRONGEST TERMS.

WE WISH TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO CONVEY OUR SINCERE CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILIES DIRECTLY AFFECTED. YOU ARE IN OUR PRAYERS AND MAY THE LOVED ONES LOST, SO TRAGICALLY, REST IN PEACE.

THE DAWN OF THESE GRUESOME MURDERS HAS STRENGTHENED OUR RESLOVE TO ENSURE THE UPHOLDING OF THE DEATH PEANLTY IN THE DRAFT CONSTITUTION. TO THAT END, WE HAVE ALREADY SUBMITTED TO THE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE THROUGH THE DISTIRCT OFFICES, THAT ARTICLE 28 (3) BE RETAINED AS PER CURRENT DRAFT.

IT OUR CONSIDERED VIEW THAT THE DEATH PENALTY, IN RELATION TO THOSE CONVICTED OF A CAPITAL OFFENCE, IS AN IMPORTANT DETERRENT, TO SECURE THE PROTECTION OF THE PRECIOUS LIVES OF PERSONS IN THE NATION. WE CONSIDER THE ARTICLE TO BE WELL BALANCED IN THAT IT HAS ADEQUATE CLAUSES ALLOWING FOR EXCEPTIONS, INCLUDING PARDON.  LIFE IS SO PRECIOUS THAT GOD PRESCRIBED AN ULTIMATE MEASURE OR CONSEQUENCE (I.E DEATH) TO BE METTED OUT BY THE STATE ON HIS BEHALF, ON WHOSOEVER WILL VIOLATE HIS COMMAND BY TAKING ANOTHER PERSON’S LIFE.

IN THE CURRENT FORM, THIS LAW REINFORCES APPROPRIATELY THE IMPORTANCE THAT GOD ALMIGHTY PLACES ON THE SANCTITY OF LIFE (HENCE, GENESIS 9:6). WE OBSERVE FURTHER, THAT THE ARTICLE POSES NO CONTRADICTION TO THE DECLARATION OF ZAMBIA AS A CHRISTIAN NATION, WHICH IDEAL WE HAVE ALSO SUPPORTED STRONGLY IN OUR SUBMISSION, FOR RETENTION.

WE CALL UPON THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO CONTINUE WORKING PROFESSIONALLY TO BRING THE CULPRITS TO BOOK, AND WE OFFER OURSELVES TO ASSIST IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE, ESPECIALLY WHERE SOME OF THE BRUTAL INCIDENTS IN QUESTION MAY APPEAR TO BORDER ON SPIRITUAL RITUALS.

IN THE MEANTIME, WE ALSO CALL UPON THE CHURCH COUNTRY WIDE, TO ENGAGE IN SERIOUS PRAYER SO THAT THE FLAMIMG DARTS OF THE ENEMY, THE DEVIL, WILL BE QUENCHED (EPHESIANS 6:10-18).

THE RECENT ROAD CARNAGES ALSO COME AS A MATTER OF GRAVE CONCERN. WE CALL UPON THE CHURCH TO CONTINUE SEEKING GOD’S PROTECTION FOR THE TRAVELLING PUBLIC AND PARTICULARY FOR OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHOSE OCCUPATIONAL DEMANDS KEEP THEM ON THE ROAD MORE THAN OTHERS.

C. THE REPORTED ILLEGAL ABORTIONS IN NORTHERN AND

   MUCHINGA PROVINCES:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

WE WERE SHOCKED TO LEARN THAT AN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION IS ALLEGED TO HAVE CARRIED OUT MORE THAN 400 ILLEGAL ABORTIONS IN NORTHERN AND MUCHINGA PROVINCES.

WE COMMEND PERMANENT SECRETARY EMMANUEL MWAMBA FOR ACTING SWIFTLY TO STOP THE WICKED ACTS IN QUESTION.

IT IS THIS KIND OF MISCHIEF THAT SUBSTANTIATES THE KEY GROUNDS FOR OUR SUBMISSION FOR THE RETENTION OF ARTCLE 28 (1) IN THE FINAL DRAFT OF THE CONSTITUTION.

WE NOTE THAT THERE IS APPARENT CONTENTION OVER THE PHRASE “…LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION”, WITH SOME SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT CONTENDING THAT THE CLAUSE, IF LEFT LIKE THAT,  “HURTS REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH OF WOMEN IN ZAMBIA AND THAT CONTRACEPTION COULD BE LIMITED.”

BUT, WHEN DOES LIFE REALLY BEGIN?

OUR VIEWS ON THIS MATTER HAVE BEEN AVAILED TO THE NATION BEFORE, THROUGH A PUBLISHED ARTICLE BY OUR NORTHMEAD ASSEMBLY.  WE REPEAT SOME PERSPECTIVES HERE DUE TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MATTER AT HAND

ARGUMENTS ABOUT WHEN LIFE BEGINS AND THE SANCTITY OF LIFE HAVE BEEN USED AS INCENTIVES FOR SOCIAL ABORTION. MANY ACTUALLY ARGUE THAT LIFE BEGINS SOME TIME AFTER CONCEPTION. ANY LAW IN ANY JURISDICTION DOES NOT WARRANT THIS. THOSE PROMOTING THIS TEACHING MUST SEE THAT THEY ARE ESSENTIALLY ENGAGED IN THE MERCILESS TAKING OF LIFE WHICH IS AGAINST THE DIVINE COMMAND OF THE CREATOR WHO SAYS- “THOU SHALT NOT KILL.” (EXODUS 20:13).

INTERESTINGLY, AND APPROPRIATELY SO, ARTICLE 28 (5)(a) STATES THAT “ A COURT SHALL NOT IMPOSE A SENTENCE OF DEATH ON A CONVICT WHO IS PREGNANT…”  IS THIS NOT IN RECOGNITION OF THE SANCTITY OF THE LIFE OF THE UNBORN CHILD CARRIED BY THE CONVICT?

UNDENIABLY, LIFE BEGINS AT CONCEPTION, WHATEVER THE MORALITY OF THE PREGNANCY, AND ENDS IN DEATH WHATEVER THE CAUSE AND TIME OF IT.  BIBLICALLY, IT IS EVIDENT THAT GOD BEGINS TO PLAN FOR THE UNBORN CHILD EVEN PRIOR TO CONCEPTION (JEREMIAH 1:5- “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born, I sanctified you…”)

OUR POSITION:

THE CHURCH’S POSITION WHICH, INTER ALIA, PROMOTES PREVENTION OF UNWANTED PREGNANCY THROUGH ABSTINENCE, MARITAL FAITHFULNESS, RESPECTING THE SANCTITY OF LIFE, AMONG OTHER THINGS, HAS BEEN PROVEN NOT ONLY TO BE SOCIALLY PLAUSIBLE, BUT SCIENTIFICALLY SOUND TOO.

AVOIDANCE OF PREGNANCY AND/OR THE PROMOTION OF SANCTITY OF LIFE WHEN A PREGNANCY HAS OCCURRED, UNDER WHATEVER GUISE, SEEMS TO BE THE WAY TO GO.  THIS MEANS THAT IF AN UNWANTED PREGNANCY OCCURS, THE PERSONS INVOLVED MUST BE COUNSELED TOWARDS KEEPING THE PREGNANCY IN ORDER TO PRESERVE LIFE.

MAY WE PRESERVE THE FUTURE OF ZAMBIA BY PRESERVING THE UNBORN CHILDREN.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING.

ON BEHALF OF MY COLLEGUES HERE AND THE ENTIRE COUNCIL OF BISHOPS OF THE PAOG-Z, I WISH YOU ALL GOOD HEALTH AND SUCCESS AND MAY GOD BLESS THE REPUBLIC OF ZAMBIA.

I THANK YOU

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