GRAND COALITION ON THE CONSTITUTION IS PURSUING PARTISAN INTERESTS OF SOME OF ITS MEMBERS
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), has been very reluctant to comment on the slippery road which the coalition of Opposition Political Parties and Civil Society is taking on the constitution reform process. However, YALI is now of the view that this situation cannot be left to continue unchallenged as it poses a grave threat to progress so far made in getting a firm timeline for putting the proposed new Constitution in place.
YALI is therefore calling upon Civil Society to re-assess its role in a democratic society and avoid conducting itself as if civil society has a more legitimate mandate, whether acting as a single unit or in coalition, than any legitimately elected government put in office by the people directly. YALI is firmly of the view that we as civil society, while assuming our rightful place in a democratic dispensation, should nevertheless, respect the popular mandate conferred upon the government of the day by the people themselves through the ballot.
It is becoming increasingly clear that some of our colleagues in the Grand Coalition, are attempting to hijack the process once again, having previously contributed to previous attempts that ended in failure to come up with a progressive Constitution. We are puzzled that:
(1) while the Grand Coalition has acknowledged in its statement that this year’s budget approved by all Members of Parliament, provides for 29 million Kwacha for the constitution-making process, they nevertheless demand, in the same breath, that a referendum on the constitution, should be held this year! We ask: how is that possible with the resources available?
We would assume that the resources provided in the 2015 national budget, should send a clear message that the Referendum cannot be held this year with such limited funding. It should be logical that we should instead use these resources to focus on ensuring that arrangements are put in place for holding a Referendum in 2016 or thereabouts.
(2) We find it quite contradictory, that the Grand Coalition should demand more time and resources towards the public sensitisation and awareness on the referendum and its modalities, a process that gives them more work to do but, at the same time, they demand that the referendum should be held within this short period of time.
(3) YALI believes the proposal by the Ministry of Justice to constitute the Constitution Implementation Team (CIT) is a better way to go towards harmonising some of the contentious issues and re-assessing the work the Technical Committee has already done. We also believe that the way forward should not be led by the same members of the Technical Committee who produced the Draft Constitution, so that they take a second look at their own work; rather, YALI is firmly of the view that the process must allow other minds to lead.
It has become evident from the activities of the Grand Coalition that the noble cause on which the Grand Coalition was founded in Chisamba has been overtaken by the core interests of the Opposition political parties, on whose behalf some organisations in the Coalition, seem to speak. While it may be true that even organisations like YALI may be speaking for other young people who share our common views on governance and development-related issues, we cannot claim to speak for all youths, some of whom may hold views different from our own. Democracy