PATRIOTIC FRONT PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDEMENTS
The Non Governmental Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is deeply concerned with the Patriotic Front (PF) proposed amendment of the Republican Constitution barely a few months after the enactment of the amended constitution.
NGOCC monitored the motion moved by PF Mwansabombwe Member of Parliament (MP), Honourable Rodgers Mwewa in Parliament on Wednesday via Parliament Radio. From the ensuing debates by Members of the August House, especially, the ruling party, it is crystal clear that the proposed amendments have nothing to do with people’s interests but based on personal, narrow and selfish interests by some of the Members from the ruling party.
It is unfortunate that the ruling party wants to amend the Constitution to remove popular clauses that were proposed for inclusion by the Zambians themselves, who are the owners of the document. As an organization and civil society in general, we believe that our position rejecting the piecemeal amendment of the Constitution was precisely to avoid some of the flaws that are now being witnessed. This further exemplifies the need for Zambia to embrace a wholesome people-driven process that would completely repeal and replace the current Constitution.
We note with concern mischievous attempts by the ruling party to now want to remove the majoritarian clause, requiring a winning Presidential candidate to get 50 percent plus 1 vote, from the Constitution so that the country reverts to the First Past the Post system. There is also clearly no understanding and appreciation of the need for separation of duties between the main legislation arm and the local governance system that now excludes Members of Parliament from the local councils.
In addition, we also have noticed further attempts to bring back the position of Deputy Ministers with no reference to the proposed structure of provincial assemblies and proportional electoral system that were set aside during the last Parliament sitting. In a period when the country is faced with serious cash-flow challenges, it is difficult to imagine a government that wants to pay a blind eye to a matter requiring magnanimity in the wake of rising cost of goods and services. It is also evidently clear that the added value of Deputy Ministers is almost nil given some of the experiences shared during the last government. We state herein that this is an unnecessary cost and is unacceptable.
Once again NGOCC wishes to reiterate that the Constitution belongs to the people of Zambia and not one political party alone and therefore, Zambians must be at the centre stage of giving unto themselves a Constitution that embodies the fundamental human rights and democratic principles as well as promotion of good governance.
NGOCC therefore calls upon all Parliamentarians to desist from this approach regarding further amendments to the Constitution and recommit to citizens aspirations by doing the rights thing. The Constitution making process is about Zambia and therefore must be driven as such by its people.
SARA H. LONGWE