There is no hidden agenda in the Zambian people’s wish for a people driven constitution.
The war that the Patriotic Front has started with the church and Civil Society over the constitution is totally unnecessary and uncalled for. It cannot be won because it is against the hearts and minds of the people. No army however strong has conquered this combination.
The PF promised Zambians a constitution within 90 days. The promise was stated in very clear and unambiguous terms indicating a time frame of 90 days. This has not happened and it is against this background that most stake holders have lost faith in the government over the issue.
At the core of this controversy is the absence of a legal framework to guide the process and protect the content.
For all practical purposes the party now has assumed to itself all the power to manipulate or indeed change the constitution as drafted by the technical committee. For some reason it would appear that people in government do not see the worry and concern by churches and civil society.
The bone of contention is the failure by government to adhere to the Terms of Reference that were given to the Technical Committee namely to prepare a draft which would be simultaneously released to the executive and public in general. This was to be done for the purpose of transparency, integrity and objectivity.
The suggestion by the vice-president that protests are premature is not accurate because the Technical Committee has clearly renounced the manner in which the government has decided to handle the process. It is true that the government does not know what is in the draft constitution and it is also true that the people who met at the Cathedral at the weekend also do not know what is contained in the draft constitution. Thus far the situation is in accord with the plan.
It is the next step that people are concerned about, namely that while they remain in blissful ignorance the Committee will hand 10 copies to the President and nonE to other stake holders contrary to the terms of reference.
Minister of Justice and PF Secretary General Wynter Kabimba has indicated that government wants 10 copies only. This is not the plan. The intention was to print enough copies for perusal by citizens as represented in the Church and civil society.
GovernmentS conduct has raised many hackles, concerns and genuine worries that the 10 copies will be doctored by the PF government and Zambians in general will have no chance to add or subtract.
The current drama suggests that the government wants to undertake a unilateral drafting process, otherwise it would have welcomed the participation of citizens to the very end of the process.
Why the secrecy when the Constitution is a public document?