THE debate about the content of the recently passed Constitution Amendment Bill which is awaiting Presidential assent should not be repeated when the Referendum vote is called for the Bill of Rights and the result goes in favour of the yes.
The negative reaction that we have witnessed following the passing of the amended Constitutional Bill proves how much some Zambians do not pay attention to content of most documents.
It is a pity that while some stakeholders are complaining about raising of 1,000 registered voters as supporters of a Presidential candidate to qualify to stand, others are opposed to the Grade 12 school certificate as minimum requirement to stand either as a councillor, member of Parliament or Republican President.
But these are not the only clauses that have raised controversy among political players, some of whom sat in the National Constitution Conference (NCC) which was constituted by President Levy Mwanawasa (late) and later the Technical Committee on the Constitution.
Some of the stakeholders crying foul now even relocated and sat in the provincial assemblies which deliberated further the details of the Draft Constitution.
It must be noted that the Draft Constitution Amendment Bill which was passed this month in Parliament was in the public domain for more than a year but some stakeholders never bothered to read its contents.
Some stakeholders were pre-occupied with the roadmap and the referendum rather than knowing the ‘‘devil in the details’’.
This is not good for our young democracy which is supposed to flourish so that we remain the pioneers of the wind of change as it was in 1991.
The amount of complaints we are hearing about the amended Constitution which is awaiting Presidential assent should serve as a warning to those crying for the referendum when they have not even read a single article in the Bill of Rights.
We wish to advise that this is the time for Zambians and other stakeholders to start reading the contents of the Bill of Rights so that they fully understand the implication if the referendum.
Zambians have enough time between now and August when the elections will be held to scrutinise the document.
The culture of complaining about the contents even when one had enough time to raise objection should be confined to the past.
Zambians should be aware of the evolution of their democracy so that they can wholly own the contents.
That is the only way we shall stop complaining about some of the laws passed even when we participated in their formulation.
The case in point is the amended Constitution Bill which was passed in Parliament this month and is awaiting Presidential assent.
When Zambians are coming up with new laws, they should be aware that the ‘‘devil is in the details’’.