Leading expert in the constitution making process has said Zambia’s Constitution is incomplete. Mr.Kabanda, who is author of the book “Know Your Constitution” published in 2008 and who was a member of the Technical Committee on Drafting the Zambian Constitution from 2011-2013 said there are certain facts surrounding the issue of constitution that Zambians need to be cognisant of namely:
1) The constitution making process, which was started 23 years ago in 1993, has up to now not been concluded;
2) The amended constitution, which was assented to on 5 January 2016 is not a complete document;
3) The Constitution and its making process are not a partisan issue.
Mr.Kabanda said these three facts ought to be our guiding principles if we want to have a successful and acceptable conclusion of the constitution-making process. In offering direction on what steps Zambia should take towards attaining a COMPLETE document called Our Republican Constitution, Mr. Kabanda reiterated that constitution making is not a partisan issue and various stakeholders should take up different tasks which should help the nation to move together towards concluding the constitution making process.
Members of Parliament should not to start making amendments to a document that is not yet complete.
Why is the document we have as our Republican Constitution is incomplete?
It is because the Bill of Rights and the constitution amendment provisions have not been finalised. These can only be finalised through a successful National Referendum. This therefore means that the immediate task that we have as a nation is to hold a National Referendum to amend the Bill of Rights and the Amendment Provisions. This task is a MUST. It is NON-NEGOTIABLE. In this regard, Mr Kabanda made the earnest appeal to our Members of Parliament not to start making amendments to a document that is not yet complete.
What needs to be done in order for us to have a successful National Referendum?
All stakeholders need to come together as one. These stakeholders include the Government, political parties, non-governmental organisations, faith based organisations and the Church as a whole.
1) In order to adequately prepare for the referendum and prepare the people, we should hold the Referendum on the second Thursday of August 2018. In this regard the preparations ought to begin in January 2017;
2) Government should constitute a team of not more than three people, which should come up with, and execute, a programme of preparing the people for the National Referendum. This team should work under the office of the Secretary to Cabinet, and it should be in place by January 2017;
3) Political parties should begin to prepare their members for the National Referendum. In this regard the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID) should coordinate a process of political parties coming up with sensitization programmes for their members, and that such programmes should be ready for execution by March 2017;
4) All non-governmental organizations should mainstream the issue of the National Referendum in their plans and activities. As they prepare their budgets for the 2017, they should include a percentage that should go towards preparing people for the Referendum;
5) The churches, deaneries, parishes and lay groups that organized programmes to prepare people for the Referendum, when it was announced that there would be a National Referendum alongside the 2016 elections should upscale what they did prior to the 2016 Referendum, and such programmes should be ready for execution by March 2017;
6) The media should:
- Ensure that debates on the Referendum do not die, until the time it will be held, possibly in August 2018;
- Those media houses that have weekly topical discussions, ensure that one out of four weeks every month is used for debates on the Referendum;
- Radio stations,can make use of the information in the music album Know Your Constitution Volume 1 to sensitise the people on the Referendum. Out of the 12 songs in the album, 9 of them are about issues in the Bill of Rights, and the titles of the 9 songs include: Know Your Constitution, Umulekelesha, Bill of Rights, Ninani Wasunga Ulupiya, Ubuyantanshi no Lupapulo, Press Freedom, Insambu Sha Babomfi, and indicators of Poverty. Mr.Kababnda said he was going to donate this music album to every radio station, and I implore you that every day you play at least one song until the time we shall hold the National Referendum;
- The print media,can make use of the book, Know Your Constitution to write features and generate debate on the Referendum. The book comprises 6 Parts, out of which Parts 2 and 3 discuss contents of the Bill of Rights.