LAZ counsels govt on constitution making process

The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) says government has a duty to promote consensus in the constitution making process.

LAZ president James Banda said it was unfortunate that government had adopted a know-it-all attitude on the constitution making process and was not ready to listen to other voices apart from their own.

Band said this when he featured on Muvi Television’s The Assignment programme on Sunday evening.

He said one of the indicators of the constitutional crisis in Zambia was the continued stay of  acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda who has been at the helm of the judiciary for more than two years in an acting capacity.

“The government has a role to play in achieving consensus. You simply cannot adopt a know-it-all attitude when it comes to the constitution,” Banda said.

He said it was not easy to believe the ruling PF would deliver a people driven constitution following so many conflicting statements coming from government.

“I must say that it has been difficult to believe that the PF government has political will to have a new constitution before 2016. Reading from what the government officials have been stating, the confidence has evaporated and it is a difficult situation where we are in,” Banda said.

He said the continued stay of Lombe Chibesakunda in the office of the Chief Justice had created a constitutional crisis adding that this was testimony that the current document had inadequacies.

“There are difficulties with this constitution and the continued stay of Lombe Chibesakunda in the office of the Chief Justice when she is constitutionally not eligible is an example of a weak constitution. How can you have someone act as Chief Justice for two years? That is a constitutional crisis. There is no Chief Justice in this country for two years. It is a constitutional crisis,” he said.

“It is very important that everybody is brought on board. If the position of government is that there is no need for a constitution at all, then let them state the position so that the matter could rested because this debate has caused a lot of tension and acrimony. What I am hearing is that there are difficulties with funding,” Banda said.

Banda said LAZ through the Oasis Forum had as far back as 2012 indicated that without a legal framework the process stood in jeopardy.

He said that the LAZ AGM of 2012 had unanimously resolved that without a legal framework the constitution making process stood to be futile exercise.