PF successes clouded, says Oasis Forum

The failure by the Patriotic Front (PF) to honour its campaign promise to deliver a people-driven constitution has clouded all its positive achievements, the Oasis Forum has charged.

Oasis Forum chairperson Susanne Matale said Zambians are not happy with the impasse that has been created.

She said it was unfortunate that the ruling party was of the view that the demand for the enactment of the new Constitution was targeted at frustrating government when it was meant to restore confidence among citizens about their own leadership.

Reverend Matale said the Oasis Forum as a consortium of church mother bodies would continue preaching peace, unity and harmony even in the face of the acrimony that has been created over the constitution making process.

She said church was not in the business of glorifying evil but promoting human dignity and justice for all Zambians.

Rev Matale said all the good things the PF could have achieved in the three years it had been power had been locked up in the failure to deliver a new constitution and that Zambians were judging the current leadership on one fundamental failure of the constitution making process.

She told the Daily Nation that it was disheartening that the PF had suddenly changed its position on the enactment of the new and people-driven constitution which should have been delivered within 90 days of being in government.

Rev Matale said if the campaign for human dignity through a universally accepted constitution was treading on the painful toes of those in government, it was not the reason for the church to be viewed as an enemy of the State.

She explained that the demand for a new constitution was meant to serve the interest of the majority Zambians contrary to the belief by government that it had been hijacked by the elite and intellectuals.

Rev Matale said the reasons Zambians were paying tax was to enable the majority of the poor citizens have access to basic needs such as clean water, good sanitation, adequate and quality health and education facilities which in the current constitution were not rights but privileges which successive governments have used to blackmail citizens.

“We do not fear in the way we speak about the constitution and other citizens’ rights and the PF government must not think that the demands for the new constitution will die away. We have been praying for the release of the draft constitution as well as the leadership. The church strongly believes that this is just a delay and Zambians will eventually get the constitution they have so much sacrificed for. God has the final say in everything and we know he has been listening,” Rev Matale said.

She said the Oasis Forum had requested for a meeting with Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba so that he could give an earnest government position on the constitution making process after several contradictory statements from government and party officials.

Rev Matale who is the secretary general of the Council of Churches in Zambian (CCZ) stated that the Oasis Forum wanted to find out from government which clauses in the draft constitution were unpalatable to the ruling party so that they could be discussed.

“In earnest, what has changed between the time of the PF’s campaigns while in opposition, its ascendancy to power, the appointment of the Technical Committee on drafting the constitution and the current state of affairs? We do not hear clearly the reasons for the turnaround, the change of heart from the campaign period of 90 days to three years. This is surprising,” Rev Matale said.

Rev Matale said the Oasis Forum was deeply concerned about the intimidation that had beset the church, political parties and the civil society organisations each time they attempted to exercise their democratic right of assembly.

She said the church had faced intimidation each time they wanted to pray for the country and its leaders as well as the constitution.

“We feel like foreigners in our own country and this makes us very sad. We are very peaceful people with no intention of promoting anarchy,” Rev Matale said.