THE Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) has challenged the media to help simplify the contents of the constitution bill which was recently published by the Government so that many people understand the document.
NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale said the media were in privileged position to help in simplifying the constitution bill considering the fact that the reading culture in the country was very poor.
Ms Mwale commended the Government for publishing the constitution bill but noted that there was need for all concerted efforts to sensitise the public on the document.
She was speaking at a media briefing in Livingstone yesterday at Woodlands Lodge where she delivered the position of the NGOCC on the current constitution making process.
Scores of women from various associations from Monze, Mazabuka, Kalomo and Livingstone attended the briefing after which they proceeded for a workshop on other matters.
“We want to appeal to the media to simplify the constitution bill and take the information to each and every part of Zambia.
“It is the role of the media to unpack information which they capture and promote further debate and analysis to discuss these things,” Ms Mwale said.
She said the media was a strategic ally in seeing that the people of Zambia were well informed and educated on the constitution and other matters.
Ms Mwale said it was good that the constitution bill had been released and members of the public would see what was contained in the document.
“There is need for Zambians to get involved in the constitution making process and acquaint themselves with the published constitution bill.
“We want to believe that Government should take leadership to make informed available to citizens aby ensuring that the bill is simplified and translated into local languages so that many people read and understand it,” Ms Mwale said.
She however said the planned partial enactment of the constitution by Parliament as not an appropriate route as it would subject the constitution to further debate and alterations by law makers against the wishes of the Zambian people which they made in the past during various consultation processes.
“On behalf of 104 member organisations of the NGOCC, we wish to disapprove Government plans to adopt and enact the new constitution through the partial process in Parliament.
“We strong believe that the process as demanded by the people of Zambia of adopting and enacting the constitution through a referendum is a democratic right of every Zambian and therefore the Government should take on that process to allow every citizen to participate,” she said.
She said there was no need for Member of Parliament (MPs) to further debate the constitution as they were part of the consultations at the district and national level.
“We would like to share our utmost aspiration to see the Bill of Rights adopted as a matter of priority through a national referendum as part of the whole constitution making process.
“We want to emphasise our insistent calls on holding the national referendum now and separate from the general elections in 2016. The issue of cost for the national referendum is not a big factor and what we need is to prioritise it because the country has adequate resources,” she said.
Ms Mwale said the Grand Coalition network, where NGOCC was also a member, was still resolute in pushing for a people driven constitution despite some members pulling out of the network.