The constitution debate in Parliament today must not be a zero sum game but a real opportunity for all Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the ruling and opposition political parties to unite and stand with the people, MMD spokesperson Dora Siliya has said.
Siliya said the MMD was calling on all the MPs regardless of their political affiliation especially the Patriotic Front (PF) backbenchers to reflect on the privilege bestowed on them by Zambians as they would be debating the motion.
Siliya said all MPs across political parties should have one priority of ensuring that the constitution making process that has since stalled should be their main concern adding that the constitution was supreme.
She told the Daily Nation that to refuse to demand for a road map from government by all MPs including those from the ruling party would be the worst form of betrayal to Zambians.
She stated that Zambians have made it clear that they needed the new constitution with reduced presidential powers, more parliamentary oversight and the 50+1 clause.
Siliya stated that for any MP to refuse to hear the loud voice of Zambians for a legislative framework that would insulate the process from manipulation was to grossly abrogate the responsibility bestowed upon the people elected to represent citizens.
“Time has come for Zambia to put the constitution matter to rest and adhere to what the majority of Zambians are saying. The PF won the elections with less than 50 percent and since the 2011 general elections, people’s support for the ruling party has dwindled and the party in government did not represent the majority,” Siliya said.
She explained that at both the National Constitutional Conference (NCC), the provincial and district conferences, Zambians had loudly spoken about their aspirations in their submissions and that it was incorrect for the PF government to rudely trash their demands.
She said it would be morally wrong for any MP not to demand that government should make it clear when people’s aspirations would be crafted into the constitution.
“Today’s private members motion in Parliament is a real chance for government to close the widening gap between citizens and itself and hear what the people are saying. History has shown that the people’s power is the only authority governments enjoy and it would be dangerous for PF to ignore the fact. It is not too late for government to be clear on the road map after spending so much on the constitution making process and today, we have a chance,” Siliya said.
She said once again, Zambians were looking forward to a day in Parliament when the MPs would put aside their political differences and be united for a fundamental cause of forcing government to honour its pledge and commitment of delivering a people driven and durable constitution.
Siliya said failure by the MPs to fully represent the people who elected them was certainly courting with the harsh judgment of posterity especially the PF government that had promised a new constitution within 90 days.
And Forum for Development and Democracy (FDD) has passionately appealed to PF MPs to support the motion to compel government to come up with a roadmap on the constitution making process.
FDD spokesperson Antonio Mwanza said that it was the prayer of his party that the debate on the roadmap was not politicized.
“We wish to passionately appeal to the PF MPs to support the motion to compel government to come up with a roadmap on the Constitution making process.
He urged all MPs to listen to their conscience saying: “It is our prayer that these men and women of the House will listen to their conscience and not to their political or personal interests and actualize the aspirations of the Zambians to have a new people-driven Constitution.”