The three Church Mother Bodies says the Church has nothing against National Dialogue, but have had serious concerns with regard to the process and contents of the National Dialogue Forum Act.
The three namely the Council of Churches in Zambia, the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia has declared their unwavering desire to support any process that conforms to constitutionalism, democratic governance and respect for human rights in Zambia which has been their plea and desire of the majority Zambians.
They said the ongoing dialogue process is unlikely to achieve national healing and reconciliation compared to the process which they had embarked on.
They said the reason why the Church is not participating is the NDF Act of 2019 does not provide a guarantee for the protection of the contents of the outcome that will be generated by the National Dialogue Forum.
The three added that this is because there is no provision in the Act, as the final NDF resolutions will be subjected to further parliamentary deliberations and scrutiny.
They noted that contrary to the submission to remove the members of parliament from the Forum, the Act still maintained this provision which will give MPs undue privilege at the end of the NDF process, to look at the Forum resolutions again and where possible alter the agreed outcomes.
The Church says it finds this anomaly to be against the rules of natural justice, where in this case, the same people who will participate in the initial discussions will be the ones again to scrutinize the same contents.
They noted that it is best practice, especially in constitutional making process, to have an independent committee of experts that reviews and refines all the submissions from the people through such fora as the NDF before they are taken to parliament for enactment to reduce the inconsistencies and lacunas in the constitution.
The three church mother bodies said Given the limited time allocated to this process, they are still concerned, as a matter of procedure with the simultaneous handling of the constitutional refinements with other pieces of legislation which must derive their existence from the
Constitution as a supreme law.
They said the NDF Act does not provide for the enhancement of the Bill of Rights by way of a referendum which is too cardinal to leave out in this process because the Bill of Rights is essential to enjoying our rights under the constitution. Our call has always been having a comprehensive constitution making process that does not leave out the question of human rights.
Meanwhile, the three Church Mother Bodies say the composition of the National Dialogue Forum is highly dominated by people with undue influence from their appointing authority.
They are concerned that when it comes to voting on particular issues not agreed by consensus, the outcome may possibly go the majority way.
The three church mother bodies said in the spirit of genuine dialogue and reconciliation they feel that the punitive clauses put in the Act do not speak well to the objectives of the National dialogue process.