Constitution making quagmire

What is happening to the constitution making process is a total disgrace.

It is a disgrace because it shows a lack of political will towards the enactment of a credible constitution that truly represents the will of the Zambian people.

For a start the failure by Government to articulate a clear roadmap towards the constitution making process by enacting a legal frame work has given rise to the various disruptions which have occurred in the last few months, which events have threatened the entire process.

The stubborn and adamant stance taken  by Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba against  suggestions and recommendation from stakeholders including civil society, churches and opposition parties has been a source of concern and at worst incredulity.

An impression has been created and Wynter seems determined to ensure that that Government and Government alone has the mandate and authority to manage and ultimately determine the manner in which the new constitution will be enacted.

This attitude is wrong because the constitution belongs to the people of Zambia as a collective and it is therefore imperative that the final document should be the result of collective effort.

The worst indication of bad faith was the unilateral demand by   Wynter for the technical committee to finalize the constitution by the end of June in spite of an appeal for an additional month. This displayed the worst for of superciliousness.

The technical committee is made up of serious, mature and seasoned legal personalities whose opinion was trivialized in a manner that was totally unacceptable.

We are therefore not surprised that external funders have come to the aid of the committee in order to retrieve a process that was most certainly doomed to fail. The entire process would have failed in the additional funding had not come through, this would have meant a total waste of the billions of Kwacha that have already been utilized.

It is therefore understandable that most stakeholders feel that Government has no political will, intention or indeed desire to ensure that the constitution that is enacted will stand the test of time.

Major concerns still centre around the manner in which the constitution will be adopted. There is worry that the current draft will be subjected to veto by  the President, Cabinet and ultimately the Patriotic Front dominated Parliament.

There is even a fear being expressed that the deliberate ploys to delay the draft is to ensure that the PF garners sufficient numbers through by election to secure an absolute two thirds majority that will enact a constitution however flawed.

These are fear which Government must put to rest by ensuring a transparent and open process. It is not too late for the Government to bring on board all the stakeholders.

This process is too important to be dealt with in the cavalier manner in which is is currently being handled.