Draft Constitution feedback extended by 50 days
The Technical Committee drafting the Zambian Constitution has extended it by 50 days the period in which stakeholders and members of the public should study and comment on the draft Constitution.
Committee spokesperson, Simon Kabanda said in a statement in Lusaka yesterday that the general public had been given up to July 31, to study the draft Constitution and make comments.
There have been calls from various stakeholders that the 40 days that were initially given was too little in which to study the document which was yet to be translated into local languages for easy understanding.
“In response to the public outcry for more time, the technical committee has extended the time-frame for stakeholders and members of the public to comment on the first draft Constitution from 40 to 90 days,” he said.
Mr Kabanda said feedback the committee had received from the launch of the draft Constitution April 30 this year indicated that people needed more time to study the contents of the first draft Constitution.
MMD national secretary, Richard Kachingwe said the party welcomed the decision by the committee to extend the deadline in which the public could study and comment on the national document.
Maj Kachingwe said the former ruling party had written to the committee to extend the period because some people had not accessed the document to yet.
“We had written to them because we realised that 40 days was too little to study the document. The Constitution is not about an overnight thing and we are happy that they extended,” he said.
Maj Kachingwe however noted that there was need to translate the draft Constitution into local languages as well as carry out massive civic awareness to enable people make informed decisions.
United Party for National Development (UPND) spokesperson, Charles Kakoma said the extension would not serve the purpose unless the draft Constitution was translated into local languages.
“It is clear that there was need to extend because the 40 days was too short. However, this exercise is a bit of a flop because the people are not reading the document in rural areas.
“I am in Zambezi here and a few copies that have reached here are in English and it means that many people cannot ready. So while we welcome the extension, we feel they should also translate and send copies to rural areas,” he said.
In a related development, draft Constitution copies that have been sent in various communities have gone on sale in some Lusaka’s townships.
A check in Kanyama during the week revealed that the document which should be given free to people in order to study, were sold as much as K5,000 per copy.
Meanwhile, Forum for Good Governance, Gender Equity and Justice the Government for having fulfilling the promise of coming up with a Constitution which would stand the test of time.
Mr Kayula said the Constitution making process had been a good development on issues of good governance and democratic development in the Province.
“However, we would have been happier to see a Legal framework that safeguards and protect the Constitution making process together with its table of contents. This would have made this process sufficiently protected by law,” he said.
Mr Kayula said the Constitution should give and extend powers to the Office of the Auditor General to audit, make arrests, prosecute, convict and consequently pass verdict on those found guilty of community claims on public resources.
The organisation recommended the electorate be given powers to recall a Member of Parliament through a vote of no confidence in case of failure to perform while mayors should be elected by the people instead of their fellow civic leaders.
He said apart from extending the period in which the public should study the draft Constitution, there was need to translate the document into local languages so as the people in rural areas voters could have an opportunity to read the document.