The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution in Zambia has met with traditional leaders in the Eastern Province as part of its ongoing nationwide engagement of traditional leaders on the constitution making process.
On 29th and 30th June 2015, a Grand Coalition team comprising Steering Committee members Mr Guess Nyirenda (OYV/YOGA), Mr Elaston Njovu (ZCTU), Mr Maxson Nkhoma (CSPR), Mr Mthaziko Zulu (Caritas) and members of the GC secretariat visited palaces of selected chiefs in the Eastern Province to discuss the need for a people driven constitution, and mobilise their support for a national referendum.
During the meetings, the Grand Coalition shared its position with the chiefs. The chiefs also raised a number of issues expressing their solidarity with the Grand Coalition, and pledged to support a national referendum once it is called.
The traditional leaders commended the Grand Coalition for its principled stance, and pledged to mobilise their subjects to resist the government’s move to make piecemeal amendments to the constitution. They commended the GC for developing the ten basic minimum principles, which they said was an informative tool on the process. The GC shared copies of its ten basic minimum principles with the traditional leaders.
The traditional leaders appealed to the Grand Coalition to highlight their views, as the government does not seem to recognise them as a key stakeholder. As the GC, we will do just that. We shall continue to highlight the issues and concerns raised by the chiefs, on behalf of their subjects.
In our discussions with the chiefs, we emphasised the fact that the final draft constitution provides for more on effective decentralization than the current constitutional provision. For example, Article 181 (1) (c) of the final draft provides for three chiefs to be members of the Provincial Assembly. Article 190 (2) (c) also provides for up to three chiefs to be members of the council in each district. Article 202 also guarantees the institution of chieftaincy, and has provisions that seek to “the honour and dignity of the institution of chieftaincy”. The Grand Coalition views these provisions as very progressive as they will address the concerns that the chiefs have raised in our interactions with them.
Our consultations with chiefs in the Eastern province show that the people of Zambia are yearning for a people driven constitution, and are against the government’s patchwork approach. We therefore call on the government not to undermine the people’s power, and allow for public participation in the adoption of the constitution, through a referendum.
The Grand Coalition has so far visited chiefs in Luapula, North Western and Eastern provinces. The feedback from all these meetings shows that their royal highnesses fully support our calls for a national referendum, and they share our conviction that a referendum is possible before the 2016 tripartite elections. Within the next few weeks we will visit chiefs in other parts of the country.