State won’t backpedal on Constitution promise – Shamenda
Government says it will not go back on its promise to come up with a people-driven Constitution which will stand the test of time.
Information, Broadcasting and Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda said in Lusaka yesterday that the ongoing Constitution-making process was not a preserve of a privileged few in society but a process that would embrace all stakeholders before the document is finally adopted.
Mr Shamenda said the Constitution-making process was all-inclusive of sectors in the Zambia.
He said this yesterday during a media breakfast dubbed; ‘Youth Campaign on Constitution- making,’ organised by Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) at Golden Bridge Hotel in Lusaka.
Mr Shamenda said the media should play a key role to inform and educate the public on comments of the draft constitution for them to participate effectively.
“Using their reporting and editorial skills, the media have a responsibility to analyse and help breakdown constitutional and other forms of jargon in the draft constitution in order to enhance public understanding and participation,” he said.
In a speech read for him by his Deputy Minister, Rayford Mbulu, Mr Shamenda said the Government was committed to having a broad-based constitution.
He said the Government was thankful for the support that Zambia had continued to receive from various cooperating partners in the Constitution-making process.
The US Embassy in Zambia recently sponsored three youth leaders from YALI to attend the President’s Forum for young leaders in Washington DC.
Mr Shamenda hailed YALI’s missions of empowering young people to create change through promotion of education, good governance and development of entrepreneurship skills.
“This is a commendable initiative which is in line with Government’s agenda to empower youths so that they contribute meaningfully to national development,” he said.
Constitution Technical Committee Spokesperson, Simon Kabanda, assured that the first draft would be released next week to members of the public for scrutiny and comments.
Mr Kabanda said his team would not extend the framework but work as mandated by President Michael Sata.
He said after releasing the document, people should make comments on various provisions to be received through Constitution conventions at three levels of district, provincial and sector conventions.
Mr Kabanda said the launch of the first draft document would also be accompanied by the launch of a website to enable people forward their comments.
He said the third and final document would be subjected to a referendum. The Constitution of Zambia Bill would be used by Parliament to enact a new Constitution.
YALI board chairperson, Andrew Ntewewe, said the Constitution should include major areas such as backing of human rights, accountability and separation of powers.
He said the Constitutional Technical team should consider extending the days for the public to make comments on the first draft document as young people needed to understand issues more broadly.
US Embassy deputy public affairs officer, Adam Jagelski, said his government would continue to support various initiatives and skills development programmes such as the Constitution-making process and empowering youth.
[Times of Zambia]