The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is relieved that the Constitution Amendment Bills No. 16 and 17 have passed the Second Reading in Parliament and we now wish to call on Members of Parliament to rise above partisan politics and enact the Bills into law when they come up for Committee Stage and Third Reading.
We want to remind the PF Government that YALI has not supported the Patriotic Front to do what they want but we have supported Government to do what is right and what is in the interest of the Zambian people’s. President Lungu must be reminded that there are some MPS within his party who would like him to be voted out of power and will use the Constitution Reform process to achieve this desire by supporting the removal of progressive clauses such as the 50 percent plus 1 and the Presidential Running which the people of Zambia have consistently said they want to see in their Constitution.
As leader of the Patriotic Front, President Lungu must guide his party MPS to avoid removing progressive clauses from the Constitution which would lead to withdrawal of support by some opposition Members of goodwill who would like to see that Zambians get a better law before December 31, 2015.
The Board of YALI unanimously resolves to support this process that is aimed at giving Zambians a better supreme law and we urge President Lungu and all our MPS to give Zambians a good and progressive Constitution before 31st December 2015.
YALI would like to remind our Members of Parliament that the duty to make, repeal and enact laws is vested exclusively in the House through Articles 62 and 78 of the Constitution of Zambia which is the supreme law that must be obeyed by all. We therefore call on those Members of Parliament to use the Committee Stage and Third Reading to draw consensus on the making of a better Constitution and removal of ambiguities in the Bill.
We also acknowledge that during this time when Zambia is facing huge economical challenges, it can be a challenge to have all costly provisions of the Billl effected and operationalised soon as the Bill is signed into law of the Bill passes through the Third Reading but the Members of Parliament must resist the temptation of removing progressive clauses in the Constitution based on the costs and current economic challenges which may be temporal.
Parliament must unanimously resolve to support all progressive clauses while guiding the nation on the effective date of some of the provisions where costs may be an issue. The lesson from Zimbabwe can be borrowed on this matter.
All members of Parliament represent the people, most of whom may not have sufficient knowledge on the content or implications of the current Draft Constitution and, at a time like this, we want to remind all MPs to remember the very reason why the people elected them to Parliament. The Draft Constitution and the Constitution Amendment Bill was arrived based on the participation of 12,000 plus Zambian elites who represented the 15 Million Zambians and it is the duty if Parliament which represents the 15 million Zambians to interrogate the content of the Bill and realign them so Zambians can have a better law which approved by MPs who are the real representatives of the the Zambian peoples.
We particularly remind President Lungu that while his party may be enjoying an a majority in Parliament, this advantage must never be used to subvert the will of the people contained in the Constitution Bills which Government has presented to Parliament. President Lungu has an opportunity to show Zambians that he means well on the Constitution by urging his Party’s Members of Parliament to enact all progressive clauses as contained in the Bill irrespective of whether the Patriotic Front which he leads, agrees with them or not.
Zambia’s Members of Parliament must never fail the nation once again, as they so shamefully did in March 2011, when they failed to give Zambians a constitution that was more progressive than the current 1996 Constitution.
Young African Leaders Initiative