It is not the signatures on the 10 Draft constitutions that matter.
It is the surreptitious attempt to and obviously unprincipled circumvent the principle of simultaneous release of the draft constitution that has alarmed and raised hackles in the nation especially among civil society institutions that have been following the constitution making process very seriously.
It is not good enough to suggest that questioning the decision is tantamount to questioning the appointing authority- the President Mr. Michael Sata.
It is the duty of those who work with the President to advise him of the law, procedures and conventions in matters that involve integrity and good Governance.
It was a very bad decision to print 10 copies of the draft constitution in defiance of the terms of reference that required full public disclosure of the draft. It was a total affront to the expressed wishes of the Zambian people who have demanded that this time round the constitution must be people driven.
10 copies as rightly observed by Bishop John Mambo were not even enough for the Cabinet. This act alone raises public suspicion of an intention by the President and those close to him to doctor the constitution.
The question therefore is; who are those to benefit from the 10 copies as that figure is most certainly at great odds with the general intention of drafting a constitution, whose intention was a document that would stand the test of time through the widest consultation possible.
It is little wonder that Law Association of Zambia President James Banda, has decried the uncalled for secrecy and pall being brought to bear on the process that should be transparent in order to give the Zambian people ownership of the final document. What the government is creating is a display of lack of integrity as opposed to the very virtuous position of the Technical Committee which has held firm to the principle, status and spirit of the constitution making process.
There was absolutely no need for the President to be at logger heads with the technical committee, a committee which he appointed. Sadly this is not the only contentious position the President has taken over grave issues of national importance.
It will be very interesting to understand how the issue of 10 copies was arrived at. Was this a collective decision taken by Cabinet and if not we safely assume that it was a decision taken by the President with his Minister of Justice? If so how valid is the decision in view of the importance of the decision.
However, when all is said and done, we join Caritas Executive Director, Samuel Mulafulafu in asking some very pertinent questions namely: What has the executive got to hide over the draft constitution, what do they secretly want to do with it behind the knowledge of Zambians.
Unless these questions are answered in a satisfactory manner, the government will have opened a very serious credibility gap, which gap will taint the rest of the constitution making process and invalidate all the work that has been done because a constitution produced by guile cannot be said to be a people driven supreme law of the land.