The summit of political party presidents in Zambia has asked all citizens to trust its stance of dialoguing towards enacting a new constitution following the consensus made on Saturday to have a constitutional conference as opposed to the Constituent Assembly.
Officially launching the Zambia Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID) at Mulungushi International Conference Centre today, President Levy Mwanawasa said political party leaders have agreed to dialogue and bury their differences with the aim of upholding the interest of the Zambian people.
Mr. Mwanawasa, who is president of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy
(MMD), said political party leaders have chosen a path of political action that
would ensure a new legitimate constitution was enacted in the interest of all
“We chose to bury our differences, we chose to forego our popularity contests for
the sake of Zambia. We agreed to one clear message and that is to give effect to a
body through legislation that will sit down to debate the proposed constitution,” he
He added that the leaders’ collective agreement surmounted any hurdles that might
impede the process of coming up with a new constitution, which he said should be
achieved through dialogue and consensus.
Mr. Mwanawasa further assured Zambians that political party leaders would never
violate the current constitution or do anything that was inconsistent with the
resolution of the Zambian people.
“That will be an inclusive process, it will also be cost-effective, it will be
within the laws that we have given ourselves. It will honour Zambia and not any
political party’s individual interests. Fellow Zambians, trust this process and
remain engaged,” he said.
The President has since appealed to all Zambians to give support the process and the
people involved in it.
He also called on donors tom support Zambians in their process of adopting and
enacting a constitution that would have the voice of the majority Zambians.
Mr. Mwanawasa paid tribute to the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy,
which played an important role in the establishment of the ZCID.
And Chairman for the Summit of Presidents, Fredrick Chomba, said political parties,
which all along have been operating as antagonistic entities, have now resolved to
work together for the benefit of Zambia as a country.
Justice Chomba said new circumstance have forced the parties to recognize that there
was strength in unity.
“Our political leaders have cast out disunity, therefore let us all support them and
also cast out disunity and drive towards achieving our desired goals,” he said.
He said a widely accepted constitution would set a strong foundation for the much
desired economic development in Zambia.
“Let no one be a political passenger in this train,” he stressed.
And giving a vote of thanks, All People’s Congress president, Ken Ngondo said
dialogue was the key to democratic development.
“This day ignited a flame of hope in all Zambians, they were losing hope in the
political leadership,” he said.
Earlier, Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) Executive Director,
Roel Von Meijenteldt called on politicians, civil society and the general citizenry
to make democracy performer better by dialoguing.
Mr. Von Meijenteldt congratulated the summit of presidents for compromising over the
mode of adopting the next constitution and urging them to continue dialoguing.
Meanwhile, opposition Patriotic Front leader, Michael Sata was missing at the launch
of the ZCID, leaving one chair on the high table empty..
ZCID spokesperson Newton Ng’uni said he did not know the reason for Mr. Sata’s absence.
Mr. Ng’uni said Mr. Sata had indicated that he would be present and changed his mind
at the last minute.
“Mr. Sata said he was coming but we are yet to get reasons for his absence. We
expected him to come but he said he was not coming at the last minute,” Mr. Ng’uni
told journalist after the launch of the ZCID.
Political party leaders that shared the high table with President Mwanawasa at the
launch were Edith Nawakwi for the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD), Richard
Kapita representing the United Party for National Development (UPND), Tilyenji
Kaunda for the United National Independence Party (UNIP), Sakwiba Sikota of the
United Liberal Party (ULP), Kenneth Ngondo for the ACP, and Benjamin Mwila of the
National Democratic Focus (NDF).
Scores of executive members’ attended the launch.