Friday, April 27, 2012
For Immediate Release
Young African Leaders Counsels Political Parties OVER the DRAFT constitution TO BE RELEASED ON MONDAY, APRIL 30, 2012
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a movement of young African leaders, has called upon all Political Parties in Zambia to begin making their positions known with regard to the contents of the draft Constitution of Zambia that will be released on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 09.30hours at New Government Complex by the Technical Committee. It is important for the leadership of political parties to guide their members on issues such as content and adoption process of how the new Constitution in order for them to fully get involved in the process. Suffice to mention also, that there is need for the soon-to-be-appointed Referendum Commission to consider the usage of National Registration Cards (NRCs) for purposes of voting during the referendum as no funds have been provided in the 2012 budget for the voter registration exercise to capture persons who will be eligible as voters during the time of the referendum.
YALI is concerned that apart from the President and Government position indicating their objections for the quota system of representation in parliament and stating that Government would not support recognition of gay rights, political parties in Zambia have remained mute on most major issues that concern the governance of the country.
YALI reiterates its earlier call on the President of Zambia, H.E. Michael Chilufya Sata, to immediately constitute the Referendum Commission that will guide the nation to successfully conduct the Referendum on the new Constitution, which will involve fifty per (50) of eligible voters.
It is our strong belief that political parties must begin to openly discuss what must be provided for in the Constitution of Zambia to ensure the supreme law provides for all citizens of Zambia – taking into account the need to:
- Presidential Running Mate: political parties must take leaf from the happenings in neighbouring Malawi where, if not properly crafted, this Constitutional provision on the Presidential Running Mate can see an opposition political party ascend to leadership without undergoing competitive elections;
- Uphold minority rights and enshrinement of cultural, social and economic rights: the constitution must not segregate its citizens based on their sexual orientation or their economic, cultural and social status;
- Abolish death penalty: which is barbaric and encourages the State to violate the person of the freedom to life;
- Create a State where institutions are more powerful than individuals: to also ensure that actions of governors can be made more predictable and that abuse of excessive powers be brought under check.
- Term limits for Members of Parliament: The new Constitution must set the two-term limits for one to be a member of parliament in the same manner the Constitution sets term limits for the Presidency. We believe Zambia has more persons that are able to take leadership and contribute to the governance of this country and their new ideas will be very useful in governance of the country.
- Devolution of Powers: while it’s imperative to devolve powers from central government to local authority, there is need for the Constitution to also raise the minimum qualification of councillors who will be given more tasks of managing resources and delivering development to their local communities. YALI is usually saddened with councillors who even fail to communicate in an official language and how such are able to contribute to debate in council chambers
- Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Information: It is our hope also that the Technical Committee includes in the draft Constitution the Freedom of Information and enhancing press freedom in Zambia upon whose subsidiary, legislation must rely on.
YALI is however, concerned that even after the referendum, the current Constitution in Article 79 (2)(b) and (3) requires that the Draft Constitution that comes from the Referendum must be subjected to the normal process of adoption, with or without any amendment to Part III of the current Constitution. We therefore, call on all Political Parties and MPs to begin discussing and debating on the said Article of the Constitution, especially after the new Draft has been adopted by the National Referendum. We shall continue to engage Political Parties and Members of Parliament to discuss the adoption process of the new Constitution. .
Young African Leaders Initiative