PUBLISH THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BILL NOW
As we await the reconvening of the Fourth Session of the Eleventh National Assembly on Tuesday June 16 th 2015, we wish to appeal to Justice Minister Dr Ngosa Simbyakula to immediately publish the Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Government Gazette to allow for constructive debates among all stakeholders.
We are aware that Dr Simbyakula intends to table this bill as early as the National Assembly reconvenes. What is however baffling is the delay by the Government to publish the contents of the proposed Amendment Bill.
Under article 79 A of the Constitution of Zambia, it is a requirement of a bill for the alteration of the Constitution or the Constitution of Zambia Act should be published in the gazette for at least thirty days before the first reading of the bill in the National Assembly.
On Monday, June 1 st 2015, as MMD youths, we took the initiative to check with Government Printers in Lusaka, the department mandated to print all government publications. We discovered that Government has still not sent any work to the Government Printers to do with the Constitution Bill.
We feel the delays whether deliberate, by design or otherwise is depriving stakeholders from engaging in constructive dialogue over this important national undertaking.
In a democracy, those that are governing should be seen to be creating an environment that promotes dialogue with the governed.As a nation, we are currently divided over what has now become to be known as contentious and non contentious clauses.
We hold the view that the ongoing debate over contentious and non contentious clauses will be an empty debate as long as the nation is not aware of which clauses the government intends to amend.
It is in this regard that we appeal to Dr Simbyakula to immediately publish the Constitution Amendment Bill in the Government Gazette in the interest of transparency and encouraging genuine debate over the constitution making process.
We wish to submit that ambushing the Members of Parliament with the Bill will not do any justice to the debate and will deprive the people’s representative time to engage their constituents on what they would like to say about the bill.
Failure to engage the people would see increased public discontentment over the matter and may lead to more street protests and other forms of demonstrations over the matter.
We therefore urge other stakeholders such as political parties especially the youth wings to refrain from being used by selfish politicians to drive their agendas over the constitution.
Street demonstrations may not be a very useful way of engaging the government over the issue of the constitution. We should demand genuine dialogue which begins with the publishing of the Constitution Amendment Bill.
National Youth Secretary
OFFICE OF THE MMD NATIONAL YOUTH SECRETARY