Constitution process annoys civil society

Various stakeholders have strongly protested against the decision by the committee drafting the new constitution to submit the final draft to President Michael Sata as opposed to presenting the document to the public for further scrutiny and submissions.

The MMD, United Party for National Development (UPND), Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), the Southern Africa Center for Constructive Resolution for Disputes (SACCORD) and Panos and other stakeholders have strongly objected to the move describing the decision as an attempt by government to manipulate the contents of the new constitution.

Muhabi Lungu of the MMD, Cornelius Mweetwa of the UPND, FODEP’s MacDonald Chipenzi, SACCORD’s Boniface Chembe and Lilian Kebber of Panos have argued that the technical committee had the mandate and duty to take the draft constitution back to the people.

But Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu has assured Zambians that the government would not let the citizens down and would ensure that a popular and people’s driven constitution was delivered.

The National Restoration Party (NAREP) has said there was nothing wrong with the final draft of the constitution being submitted directly to the President.

Dante Saunders, the political activist has charged that President Sata has shattered the Zambians` hope that they will have a new constitution that will stand the test of time by trivializing the process of coming up with the document.

The political activist said the President had not shown any commitment to the constitution-making process and his statement that Zambia already had a constitution under which he was elected was confirmation that the Patriotic Front had lied about delivering a universally-acceptable document within 90 days.

He said the realization of a constitution that will stand the test of time had once again become a pipedream for Zambians and that there was no hope that the ruling party would deliver the desired constitution within time that it would be in government.

Commenting on President Sata’s speech at the official opening of Parliament last Friday, Saunders said it had become clear that the PF government never meant what it promised Zambians about enacting the new constitution.

He said the Head of State had merely glossed over the constitution-making process and that the country had yet again missed the chance to have a constitution that would stand the test of time.

“Once again, we have been fed with political rhetoric by President Sata and we have lost another chance of dealing with real issues such as poverty, unemployment, political violence and above all a chance to have a constitution. The issue of the new and durable constitution is now a pipe dream because our hopes of ever having a new constitution under this government have been shattered by the trivialities Sata made about the supreme law of the land,” Saunders said.