Wynter Kabimba must really think that Zambians are stupid.
Otherwise how do you explain him assuring Zambians that the Patriotic Front (PF) was committed to enacting a people driven constitution, when he was busy dismantling the mechanism for the purpose?
Even as he spoke in Kabwe Wynter knew that the Technical Committee had been instructed to wind up its work and hand over all the documents to the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice by March 31 2014.
He was fully aware that at his suggestion the Technical Committee was still waiting to hand over the report to the President, the appointing authority.
The technical committee comprising of eminent legal personalities were thus being instructed to hand over their documents to a Civil Servant, not even to the Minister himself.
This is the worst possible insult the people of Zambia could be dealt.
That after billions of Kwacha had been spent in an exercise involving hundreds of Zambians, Wynter had the temerity of truncating the process in a manner that showed little or any regard of other Zambians is a mistake that the Patriotic Front will live to regret.
And so the 10 copies of the draft constitution as dictated by Government have now been deposited with a Permanent Secretary at Wynters office. The entire effort of an eminent former Chief Justice and legal luminary Annel Silungwe and his colleagues are reposed in the civil service and as far as we can surmise, this marks the end of the process.
Just as a matter of courtesy we would have expected Wynter to show some respect to Judge Silungwe to allow him and his colleagues present the report to him, but this was not to be.
There should be no further pretence that the PF intended to enact a new constitution before 2016. The exercise was an expensive ruse for which the Government must be accountable.
It is this type of conduct that generated the worst possible scenes in our National Assembly when for the first time members of the opposition conducted themselves in a manner totally uncharacteristic of the gravitas of the house.
MPs and Zambians in general were expecting the Minister to make a meaningful statement in Parliament where members would have, on behalf of the electorate, taken the occasion to interrogate and seek clarification over the many contentious issues that have surrounded this matter.
They instead received a slap in the face.
It is not so much that Zambians suspect that the PF will tamper with the document, as Wynter stated, but that there is absolutely no political will to enact a new constitution and that Zambians must accept that there will be no new constitution before the 2016 elections.
The current posturing, prevarication and contradictions within the party are nothing more than window dressing to show movement where there is none.
Nobody in their right mind would believe that securing an appointment with President Michael Sata to deliver the draft constitution would take more than a day’s consultation. Tribunal reports have been presented to the President within two days of completion.
That the Technical Committee’s report has not been accorded the time and opportunity within the President’s schedule shows the priority it enjoys.
Minister of Defence Edgar Lungu has also shed a little more light by stating that the constitution was not a priority. This comes soon after he raised public hopes by suggesting that the constitution will be adopted by a referendum.
Obviously guided by party policy the Minister has not only reneged but completely dashed any hopes of the constitution ever being considered in the life of the current sitting of Parliament.
We are back to the indeterminate position, where there is no draft, no roadmap and therefore no constitution.
It is significant that Government has already started investing in the counter campaign against the draft constitution that has already been circulated. It is not by coincidence that Traditional leaders have been roped into a campaign that discredits an article that vests all the land in the President.
The Chiefs have been instructed to condemn this clause because it takes away their power of managing customary land. It is not by coincidence that traditional leaders have latched to this clause to condemn the entire constitutional draft.
These are not the actions of a Government that is acting in good faith and it is for this reason that the Church, civil society and most concerned Zambians are working towards an alternative way of ensuring we have a constitution before 2016.