Zambians must never get fatigued in their demands to have a new and people driven constitution despite the procrastination employed by government to frustrate the constitution making process, the Oasis Forum has advised.
The Oasis Forum has said Zambia has had four failed constitution making processes in the past and that citizens were not going to allow the current process to be killed by the Patriotic Front (PF) government because the party in government had committed itself to delivering the constitution.
In its synopsis themed ‘Constitution and You-time to make connections,’ the Oasis Forum explained that there had been several constitution review commissions which were primarily aimed at coming up with a people driven constitution that would be durable and universally accepted.
The forum explained that the constitution making process started with the Mainza Chona constitution review commission, then the Professor Mvunga constitution review commission followed by the John Mwanakatwe commission through to the Willa Mung’omba commission but the country had failed to enact a constitution.
It said in all the four constitution review commissions, government had interfered with the submissions by making changes and choosing what they wanted to be put in the constitution contrary to the people’s expectations.
The forum said all the four constitution review commissions had collected views from the people but that successive governments have either ignored the submissions or shelved the documents.
It said that the Technical Committee appointed by President Sata to draft the new constitution had collected views from across the country and that government should now ensure that the people’s submissions are respected by making them into law.
The Oasis Forum said the constitution was an important document because it ensured that citizens’ rights such freedom of speech, association and religion were protected.
The forum said the rights and freedoms of citizens were contained in the Bill of Rights and that was why the constitution was expected to be enacted through a referendum.
“The Oasis Forum is a composition of the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ), the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Non-Governmental Orgainisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC).
“A constitution is an important document because it protects the right and freedoms of citizens. The constitution protects our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and the right to belong to any religion. The powers and rights in the constitution come from the people and that is why we call it a people driven constitution. We have had four constitution review commissions all with the aim of coming up with a new constitution but without success and that is why Zambians must continue demanding for the constitution that should be enacted through a referendum,” the forum said.
The Oasis Forum said Zambians wanted to see a constitution which would address the right to food, clean water and sanitation, education and health.
It stated that the right to work and earn a living, women’s rights and the right to have a Republican President elected by the majority of the people via a 50+1 percent as well as the right to benefit from taxes collected from communities were among the many demands Zambians wanted included in the new constitution.
The forum has urged Zambians to demand from their representatives in Parliament for their basic aspirations were protected and that citizens should ensure the referendum was conducted before enacting the new constitution.