Government should stop using the lack of money as an excuse for refusing to deliver a people driven constitution because the K15 billion Justice Minister is complaining about has already been budgeted for in the 2014 national budget, the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) has said.
FODEP executive director MacDonald Chipenzi said government had budgeted K44.2 million (rebased) for the constitution making process which included a referendum as a means of adopting the constitution.
Chipenzi said Zambians were wondering whether the K15 million Kabimba was complaining about was not part of the K44.2 million that was budgeted for the constitution making process.
Chipenzi has challenged Kabimba to clearly state what government was intending to do with the K44.2 million meant for the constitution if it was not going to be spent on the process that has since stalled because government was no longer interested in the process.
He said Zambia were awake to the fact that government was merely trying to divert the attention from the constitution making process to debates that were politically and economically unproductive.
He said there was more than enough money in the 2014 national budget for the constitution making process and saw no reason for Kabimba who is the Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general to claim that there was no money for the exercise,
Chipenzi said Kabimba lied when he told the nation that the constitution making process would take more than 15 months because government would have to conduct a new population census if the constitution was to be enacted through a referendum.
He said FODEP was still demanding the release of the Draft Constitution and that government should stop playing hide and seek over an important document that had caused a lot of tension in the country.
He explained that the cost of the constitution making process was no longer an issue of debate because Zambians were ready to sacrifice to ensure that the new constitution that had dodged them for decades could be brought to a logical conclusion.
“Government has started complaining that the referendum is a costly venture that would gobble K15 billion (non-rebased). But we know that in the 2014 national budget, K44.2 million (rebased) was budgeted for the constitution making process. The K15 million Kabimba is complaining about is less than a third of what was budgeted for. We have enough money for the constitution making process unless Kabimba is telling the nation that government has already diverted or misapplied this money. Let them stop inventing excuses because nothing is making sense anymore because we have had countless contradicting statements from government ministers including President Michael Sata himself,” Chipenzi said.
He said it was the PF government that told Zambians that the constitution making process was going to take a maximum of eight months when the Technical Committee drafting the constitution was appointed and sworn in.
Chipenzi said the constitution making process was within time and that it was highly possible that the new constitution could be enacted before the end of this year.
He said the 2013 national population census was valid for ten years and it was therefore misleading for Kabimba to suggest that government would have to conduct a new census before embarking on a referendum.