THE Grand Coalition on the people-driven Constitution has described the tabling of Constitution Amendment Bill to Parliament by Government as a violation of the democratic practice in the constitution-making process.
But Patriotic Front (PF) Lusaka Province youth chairman Kennedy Kamba has accused the Grand Coalition of bigotry and intellectual intolerance for having taken a strident and uncompromising partisan position and using the constitution-making process to champion an anti-government agenda.The Grand Coalition has also accused the Patriotic Front (PF) of having violated its own manifesto in the constitution-making process. Grand Coalition chairperson Leonard Chiti said Parliament had no power to give Zambians a new Constitution which was promised to Zambians while the ruling party was in the opposition.
Fr Chiti claimed that it had become clear that the engagement Government was undertaking in the constitution-making process was nothing but window-dressing because according to the Grand Coalition, the Ministry of Justice had predetermined the outcome of the amendment Bill.
Fr Chiti said in a statement yesterday that Government had allegedly usurped the powers of the people who had been demanding that the new Constitution should have been adopted through a national referendum.
But Mr Kamba said the Grand Coalition could not be trusted because their views did not represent the collective [position of other civil society organisations such as the Young African Leadership Initiative that had pulled out of the organization.
He said the PF youths were fully aware that the Grand Coalition was linked to a named opposition political party and that its position on the constitution-making process was politically tainted.
He explained that Parliament was the supreme body that was mandated to enact the constitution adding that even if the entire document was subjected to a referendum, it would eventually be subjected to Parliament for enactment. Mr Kamba wondered why the Grand Coalition was ever against government well-intended decisions cautioning that should Zambians listen to what the Grand Coalition were propagating; Zambia would yet again fail to have a people-driven and durable constitution. He alleged that the resultant Constitution from the amendment Bill was going to be a Constitution that was going to reflect the image of the PF charging that the Grand Coalition was not going to support the route Government had taken in the constitution-making process.
“The Grand Coalition on a people-driven Constitution has noted with profound sadness that the PF government has decided to disobey the voice of reason and logic on the constitution-making process. The tabling of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2015 before the National Assembly of Zambia for debate and consequent amendments is a clear violation of the democratic practice in the constitution-making process and the PF manifesto. It is the conviction of the Grand Coalition that Parliament has no power to give Zambians a new Constitution,” Fr Chiti said.
He said the Grand Coalition would not support any route that would treat the Bill of Rights as a secondary matter because according to the coalition, it destroyed the bedrock of Zambia’s existence.
Fr Chiti said the Grand Coalition was of the view that the parliamentary route of adopting the new Constitution was treacherous and would therefore not be supported by the coalition.
He said the Grand Coalition had resolved not to be part of the current constitution-making process claiming that the coalition did not want to legitimatise what he termed the undemocratic process of enacting the new Constitution.
Fr Chiti warned that MPs who would support the Constitution Amendment Bill which he charged did not guarantee the rights of electorates would be closely watched and that the coalition was going to follow them to their constituencies.
“In our effort not to be abused and used by Government on this process, the Grand Coalition has decided to decline a request from the National Assembly of Zambia through the committee of legal, gender and human rights to make submissions on the Constitution amendment Bill 2015,” Fr Chiti said.