The Heads of Churches of the Council of Churches in Zambia have said that the current constitution of which President Edgar Lungu assented to has many flaws and is poorly edited as a result of the rushed process which did not allow for further scrutiny of the document before it was officially endorsed.
In a Statement released to the media in which they addressed a number of subjects, CCZ said the that the constitution asserts falsehood in the preamble because it was never adopted or given to the people of Zambia by themselves.
Below is the full statement
PRESS STATEMENT RELEASED BY THE HEADS OF CHURCHES OF THE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN ZAMBIA (CCZ)
We, the Heads of Churches of the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) from a meeting held on 1st March, 2016, wish to highlight issues of concern as follows-:
2. FORTH-COMING GENERAL ELECTIONS
The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) notes that the election date has been constitutionally set for 11th August, 2016. The council believes that the forth-coming elections will contribute towards enhancing our growing democracy and the development instills confidence in the people of Zambia.
It is our appeal to the government and institutions responsible for overseeing the electoral process to ensure that they demonstrate professional dedication to smooth, efficient and transparent electoral processes ahead of the elections. The electoral process before, during and after election day must be guarded carefully so as to be free of any malpractices that will allow for discontentment among the people of Zambia.
We are aware that every election is associated with various challenges but we believe that by timely announcing the date of elections, it allows for adequate planning which includes sourcing funds and training of personnel to guarantee free and fair elections.
The church would like to further implore government for the additional effort made to prepare for the elections as evident from the Ministry of Home Affairs implementation of countrywide activities such as voter education, mobile issuance of national registration cards and the registration of voters.
Elections are a critical moment in every country’s political history and therefore August 11, 2016 yet again presents the Zambian people an opportunity and requires that government creates an enabling environment.
3. CURRENT POLITICAL VIOLENCE
The church is deeply saddened by the ever increasing cases of political violence that have characterized the political scene with deaths recorded in some instances. This volatile political environment ahead of elections has diverted the attention of many especially the leaders of government from addressing important issues.
The physical violence perpetrated by youths suspected to be sponsored by both the ruling and the opposition the political parties and feared to be armed is a sign of immaturity among politicians whom we expect to address the matter with the urgency it deserves if the situation is to be corrected.
We are advise all political parties to refrain from conducting themselves in a manner in which they get to offend each other especially the use of insults and bad language, a situation which may result into violence and consequent death.
In the same vain we call on all political party leaders to address this issue within parties in order to bring to an end all political confusion which if left unchecked risks erupting into serious conflict which may destabilize the country’s peace and stability that we have enjoyed over the years. It is also our appeal to all political parties to refrain from offensive campaign messages.
We urge all political parties to end political violence. Political violence does not reflect the agenda of the nation rather reflects personal and selfish agendas. The church does not support any political party that propagates political violence.
CCZ has observed that the current constitution of which President Edgar Lungu assented to has many flaws and is poorly edited as a result of the rushed process which did not allow for further scrutiny of the document before it was officially endorsed.
The council has observed that the constitution asserts falsehood in the preamble which states that “We the people of Zambia…Do hereby solemnly adopt and give ourselves this constitution. The constitution was never adopted or given to the people of Zambia by themselves as it was never put to a referendum for legitimation by the people . The process was through and through executive driven which was not the agreed roadmap which the PF government promised the people of Zambia.
We note that the constitution has very long provisions excluding the bill of rights with the earlier 1996 constitution having 139 inclusive of the bill of rights as opposed to the 275 in the current constitution. In this regards , it is not user friendly to the common Zambian reader.
The heads of Churches have observed that the current constitution has unworkable provisions such as the equivalent ranking of the constitutional court and Supreme Court and creation of separate constitutional court with its own judges. We believe that there has to be one higher court for ultimate determination of matters.
We also note that the constitution contains dangerous provisions such as the president given power to deploy troops outside the country unilaterally which does not allow for consultation with cabinet or seek the approval of the National Assembly, a situation which we believe is extremely dangerous.
The constitution has further allowed for the establishment of unnecessary institutions such as constitutional court, gender and equality commission, parliamentary service commission , emoluments commission, state Audit Commission and the Anti –Financial and Economic crimes Commission.
Following these observations, the council is calling institutions with the mandate of overseeing the process of putting together important documents such as the constitution to be vigilant at all times in exercising their right of governance.
5. DEATH PENALTY STAND
The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) wishes to express its disappointment at the inclusion of the death penalty in the just amended Constitution which upholds the imposition of the death penalty.
The council is totally, holistically, biblically and theologically opposed to death penalty, based purely on Biblical and Theological interpretation of the matter because we are a people of faith and we take our faith seriously.
Death penalty is not supported by any scripture, only if it is applied selectively, we believe that human life is sacred and cannot be taken away by anybody including the state because that do including the state are guilty of murder. The church acknowledges that crime needs to be punished, however when a person is out to death, there is not punishment on the part of the person sentenced and the regrets remains with the person that executes the other.
The council believes that punishment is reform and that one must be able to learn from their mistakes. With the death penalty there is nothing that one can learn and it does not deter would be offenders, if that was the case there would be no murders in the world.
According to the scripture read in progression indicates a movement from vengeance to love and forgiveness (Matthew 5:38-45). Therefore, in the new dispensation there is more room to forgive, to uphold human dignity, reform and therefore death penalty would not find a place in the progression movement. The biblical and theological perspectives on death penalty, life is precious and this is why one should not kill (Exodus 20:13). Therefore, there cannot be any distinction of murder whether it is the state that kills or an individual who kills.
All that Bible says is that murder of any kind is prohibited because life is sacred. Theology upholds that life is sacred and all humans need to be treated with dignity as creation of God. Human dignity as a created dignity means that we receive our dignity from the creator.
6. CHRISTIAN CHURCHES MONITORING GROUP (CCMG)
The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) is part of an alliance of four faith-based organizations, namely the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), and the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC) through Caritas Zambia.
The formation of the coalition is aimed at monitoring the elections and the entire electoral process leading to elections, focusing mainly on the management of the election results, using Parallel Voter Tabulation (PVT) exercise as a tool to monitor the integrity of the election results during and after the counting process of the votes.
CCZ through its participation in the alliance is committed to ensuring that the electoral process in Zambia is credible and in accordance with the laws that govern the country as a democratic state because the process of monitoring elections can only bear fruit in an environment where peace and unity prevail.
CCMG is currently undertaking four monitoring efforts as the nation works towards holding general elections this year and these are Long Term Observation (LTO), Voter Register Audit, Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT), and Voter Registration Monitoring (VRM) which was just completed.
7. CALL FOR PRAYERS
A sign of unity of purpose will be demonstrated by the Council of Churches (CCZ) by joining hands in praying for the nation of Zambia.
An open invitation will be extended to all peace loving Zambians to attend an interdenominational national prayer service, to lift the country to God on issues affecting the country which are of concern ahead of the August 11, elections.
During the event, whose date and venue will be advised the church will focus on praying for peace, political harmony, leadership and government.
Representatives from various church denominations will be invited to intercede for the country. The church will also pray for all issues which will be identified as areas of concern to the citizens.
8. SEXUALITY AND MARRIAGE
The Council of Churches in Zambia believes in the fundamental position stated in the Bible concerning marriage between man and woman. The church therefore remains resolute in upholding the biblical values which clearly oppose same sex marriages.
The Church continues to pray for the people of Zambia and our country for continued peace and dialogue for the benefit of all towards dignity of all Zambian citizens.
Bishop Dr Rev Alfred Kalembo
PRESIDENT-COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN ZAMBIA (CCZ)