Draft Constitution not yet on cabinet agenda

Government says cabinet has not yet sat to discuss the contents of the Draft Constitution because it has not been scheduled as there are many other pressing issues such as education, health and poverty that were being attended to.

Defence Minister Edgar Lungu told Parliament on Wednesday that the Draft Constitution would be discussed at an appropriate time before it could be released to the general public.

In a ministerial statement, Mr Lungu as acting leader of Government business in the House said government was still making consultations on the draft constitution and that as soon as such consultations were completed, Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba would be able to make a comprehensive statement.

Mr Lungu said although government was aware that Zambians were resolved to have a new and people driven constitution, it was not appropriate that the document could be tabled before cabinet while consultations were still going on.

He told Parliament that the Patriotic Front (PF) government was not going to be specific about the time frame when the consultations were going to last adding the ruling party was evaluating its promises including the pledge of enacting a people-driven constitution within 90 days.

“We know there is a limit to how far the people’s patience could be tested but we are not going to speculate about the time frame the consultations on the draft constitution will last. The draft constitution has not yet been tabled before cabinet and when the consultations are completed, the Minister of Justice will issue a comprehensive statement,” Mr Lungu said.

But Mr Lungu’s statement attracted sharp reactions from opposition MPs who accused the PF government of having taken Zambians for granted over the constitution making process.

Bweengwa UPND Member of Parliament Highvie Hamududu told Mr Lungu whether he was aware that Zambians were resolved to give themselves a people driven constitution that the delay was making them angry.

Lubansenshi Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Mucheleka said the PF government did not understand the concept of time and demanded that the ruling party should clearly state the time frame and road map so that Zambians should know when they would have their new constitution.

Mr Mucheleka warned that it would be a disaster should the PF fail to deliver a people driven constitution before the 2016 general elections.

“This is a government that has no understanding on the concept of time. Mr Speaker, Sir, is the acting leader of government business in the House going to clearly indicate the time frame when cabinet would be able to sit and discuss the draft constitution and its road map. If the PF is going to fail to deliver the new constitution, it will be a disaster for the ruling party,” Mr Mucheleka said.

Siavonga lawmaker Kennedy Hamudulu said the PF had handled the constitution making process in a careless manner stating that the ruling party had shown that it was not interested in giving the people their constitution.

Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament Garry Nkombo accused the PF of having stolen the draft constitution and wondered how Zambians were going to get a people driven constitution when there were fears that the contents of document risked being tampered with.

Liuwa Member of Parliament Situmbeko Musokotwane said the PF campaigns in 2011 were based on the promise of enacting a people driven constitution within 90 days with more jobs and more money in the people’s pocket and that the ruling party should not be surprised if Zambians decided to withdraw their trust and voted them out of government in 2016 general elections.

“The PF campaigned on the basis of delivering a people driven constitution, more jobs and more money in people’s pockets among many other promises. Now the constitution has been laid aside. Will the PF be surprised if people withdraw their trust,” Dr Musokotwane said.