The debate on the constitution must now be put to rest.
The final nail, as they say, has been driven into the coffin of any prospects of a new constitution being enacted before the 2016 elections.
This is a given fact now.
The next stage is for the grand coalition, oasis forum and all the people of goodwill to get back to the drawing board and find the most viable, effective and lasting solution to ensuring that the work done by the technical committee does not go to waste.
It must be obvious that Mr. Wynter Kabimba the Patriotic Front Secretary General has a perception of the constitution which generally differs with most stake holders. He believes that the constitution should be tied to the Patriotic Front Manifesto, whereas most Zambians believe that the constitution is a national document that must transcend political and ideological divides.
Already the campaign to malign the draft constitution as worked by the Technical Committee has commenced with very selective release of comments condemning aspects of the yet to be released draft.
We had the chiefs condemning articles that relate to the land. Then we had the highly disputed assertion from the medical fraternity regarding the definition of conception.
These statements or exposure of negative sentiments was not by accident.
The intention is to rubbish and ensure that enough doubt is created in the document for the general public to rise to the bait of demanding for a new national debate on the document. In other words Zambians will be required to commence de novo , as lawyers would put it.
Clearly there is no need for this process. What is required is a clear way forward towards a new constitution. This should include examining the technical challenges such as the referendum and other financial and logistical matters.
Enough time has been spent in exploring, conferring and soliciting public opinion on the nature of constitution that Zambians have aspired for. Between independence and now many attempts have been made at constitution making and with each attempt the exercise has been refined.
What the technical committee has put together is the result of many years of work done by previous efforts and the input from recent submissions.
In short we have in the new draft a document that would pass for final consideration and enactment, suffice to state that not every article will be acceptable to all the people, no document is ever that perfect. This constitution will not be an exception.
There is need for good faith in any process and unfortunately the PF has abrogated that faith as rightly observed by UPND President Hakainde Hichilema who noted : “Kabimba told us that he did not know where the constitution was, his Permanent secretary said the same, he also told us through parliament that he was waiting for an appointment with the president and if the opposition stopped yapping about it he would deliver the document and now he has told that facade of an indaba that his ministry had the document. Can you say that he is being honest?”
The contradiction and conflicting statements over the constitution do not make for a legitimate and meaningful dialogue.
That is why we would like to appeal to all the constitutions involved in the process to seriously consider charting a course of action that must bind aspiring political parties to subscribe to a demand for a new constitution which has very clear stipulations regarding the 50+1 and other clauses that will truly make the Zambian people masters ofthe political process rather than victim of a powerful executive.