Civil disobediency over constitution threatened

A consortium of civil society organisations yesterday picketed Parliament demanding the immediate release of the Draft Constitution and have threatened that Zambians will have no choice but to resort to civil disobedience and agitation should the Government continue playing political games to frustrate the constitution making process.

The consortium has warned President Sata that he should never think that Zambians will let him get away with failure to honour his  pledge to deliver the new constitution which they said should have been completed within the first 90 days of the Patriotic Front in power.

The organisations have declared that they would also use any other non-violent action or any other legal action to press government not only to release the final draft constitution but to have it adopted through a referendum, as spelt out in the terms of reference of the Technical Committee appointed by the President.

The civil society organisations were at Parliament building to petition the Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba to give a comprehensive statement on the conflicting position government has taken on the constitution making process.

Among the civil society organisations at Parliament were the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Operation Young Vote (OYV), Southern Africa Center for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD), 2410, and students from the University of Zambia.

The consortium has vowed that they would not acept anything less than the release of the Draft Constitution and that government had no choice but to release and present the document simuteneously to President Sata and the general public.

The organisations that arrived at Parliament grounds as early as 12:00 hours sung songs denouncing government for having given conflicting statements on the constitution making process.

President Sata has declared that Zambia did not need a new constitution and that if there were defects in the current document, they could be corrected via amendments, a statment that has infuriated a cross section of society who feel that the PF had betrayed the trust of Zambians.

“Sata is the President who told Zambians that he was going to deliver the new constitution within 90 days and we have clung to his word. We are not going to listen to anything else from him and let him be cautioned that Zambians have had enough and they are not going to accept anything less than a new constitution. We shall have no choice but to resort to civil disobideiance and agitation should President Sata and his government continue playing politics on the constitution making process,” Andrew Ntewewe, the YALI president told the Daily Nation.

Ntewewe said President Sata should not think that because first republican president Kenneth Kaunda, second president Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda did not give Zambians a popular and durable constitution then he was not obliged to honour his promises.

And SACCORD information officer Obby Chibuluma said the civil society organiations would continue demanding for the release of the final draft constitution and that attempts by government to confuse the people by giving conflicting statments would not be accepted.

But Justice Minister Kabimba yesterday told Parliament that President Sata had not changed his position on the constitution making process and his statement in Mansa where he was quoted as declaring that Zambia did not need a new constitution was misconstrued.

Kabimba said had the President decided that Zambia did not need a new constitution, he would have dissolved the Technical Committee he had appointed to draft the new constitution.