Zambians must take ownership of constitution making process

The Patriotic Front (PF) government can no longer be trusted over the constitution making process and Zambians should therefore take ownership of the process by demanding for a referendum, Grand Coalition on Constitution spokesperson Pamela Chisanga has said.
Chisanga said it was clear that the PF was determined to enact a constitution for itself and not for Zambians and called on Zambians to rise and thwart attempts by those in government to adulterate a legitimate and authentic document currently in the hands of the public.
She said the PF government had monumentally failed Zambians on the constitution and that it was time citizens took ownership of the process by demanding nothing less than a referendum as the only and ultimate means of enacting a popular and people-driven constitution.
Chisanga said the statement by Vice-President Guy Scott that the technical committee that drafted the constitution could have done a bad job and that government would consider appointing another committee was not strange because there had been schemes to enact the constitution through a Legal Reform and Justice Commission (LRJC) establish in November last year.
She disclosed that government had approached the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and asked them to submit the names of representatives to sit on the commission without spelling out the terms of references.
She said the CSOs had refused to nominate the names of representatives because they were suspicious that government was scheming to enact the new constitution through its commission that should have been formed in November last year.
“The PF had been scheming to manipulate the constitution making process and in November last year, they had formed the Legal Reform and Justice Commission (LRJC) through which they wanted to enact the new constitution. They wanted the CSOs to nominate representatives to sit on the commission but had refused to spell out the terms of references. So we refused because we strongly suspected that they were trying to use their commission to enact the constitution,” Chisanga said.
Chisanga explained that it had been the plan of the PF government to finalise the constitution making process through a justice commission and that the CSOs were alert and refused to be part of the commission because government had refused to state the terms of reference.
Chisanga said it was unacceptable for government to rubbish the technical committee that was appointed and sworn in by President Sata adding that there was need for the process to be concluded within this year.
She said Zambians were happy with the contents of the draft constitution and the only thing they were waiting for was for government to set up a referendum commission so that the constitution could be enacted before the end of the year.