Dual citizenship clause is meant to benefit Zambians and not foreigners coming into Zambia-Silungwe
THE Chairperson of the Technical Committee on the Drafting of the Zambian Constitution Justice Annel Silungwe has said the dual citizenship clause in the draft constitution is meant to benefit Zambians and not foreigners coming into Zambia because citizenship is a fundamental right.
Answering questions on Wednesday in Lusaka when he opened a three-day media orientation workshop at Mika Hotel, Justice Silungwe said that many countries around the world have dual citizenship and reaped economic benefits through skills transfer and remittances from their nationals in the diaspora.
Justice Silungwe also dismissed assertions that foreigners are influencing the contents of the draft constitution, saying only one eminent South African constitutional lawyer has been consulted.
He said the other Zambians based outside the country such as Professor Michelo Hansungule of the University of Pretoria, Dr Choolwe Beyani, Mervin Mbao and Professor Muna Ndulo of Carnell University in the United States have been consulted.
Mr Justice Silungwe said the Technical Committee has made it a point to consult extensively so that the process is inclusive and people-driven. They want the constitution to derive its legitimacy from the people.
“We have consulted with the blind, the youth, children, church organisations, trade unions, professional bodies, the judiciary, Electoral Commission of Zambia, civil servants, Public Service Commission and Members of Parliament,” he said.
Justice Silungwe also said that the comments that have been received during the first phase of the consultation process, indicate that members of the public have an interest in the constitution making process.
He said interesting issues have emerged from members of the public in the media with some comments showing that the people understood the proposed clauses in the draft constitution; while in some cases more explanations are needed on certain clauses.
“From the public perspective, the technical committee is aware that issues like the running mate and proportional representation pose a challenge to some stakeholders and other members of the public in understanding them,” he said.
And closing the workshop, spokesperson of the Technical Committee on the Drafting of the Zambian Constitution Simon Kabanda, said the consultation process has now reached a formal stage that will involve district and provincial assemblies that will eventually lead to a national convention.
Mr Kabanda said it is imperative for the media to highlight the importance of the assemblies so that people prepare themselves to participate in the gatherings.
‘’What we are doing now is to prepare the people to participate in the process… for people to participate they need to know the contents to appreciate the process,’’ he said.
Mr Kabanda also urged the media to report positively about the process, saying in doing so the outcome of the process would be positive.
Meanwhile, the Technical Committee has said that it has made a proposal to Government to appoint a National Referendum Commission to chart the way for a national referendum to be held next year.
Chairperson Justice Annel Silungwe said the referendum on the new constitution is likely to be held next year because the consultative and submission processes are likely to end this year during the rainy season.
Justice Silungwe pointed out that the referendum cannot take place this year. He said Article 79 of the current constitution prescribes that no alterations can be made to the Bill of Rights without a referendum.
“The indication is that the National Referendum Commission will need about eight months to prepare, and our current process will reach the rain season when some areas of country become impassable,” he said.
[Zambia Daily Mail]