The Common Ground Network (CGN) has opposed calls from other NGOs to withdraw the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No 10 of 2019 but has called on Members of Parliament to proactively amend the Bill as proposed by the Parliamentary Select Committee.
During a media briefing at Woodlands Ash Lodge on Saturday, CGN Coordinator David Mvula observed that continuing debate on Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No 10 is healthier for citizens in a democratic society and presents an opportunity for to satisfy constitutional requirements in Article 43(2)(a) which mandates citizens to acquire basic understanding of the Constitution and promote its ideals and objectives.
Mr. Mvula said Bill 10 comprises of clauses which are good for Zambia but also provisions such as Deputy Ministers and Coalition Government which have been rejected by all political parties who include the Patriotic Front and United Party for National Development.
“The Bills has clauses which are both good and bad but the duty to realign or removal bad clauses from a Constitution is the responsibility of Members of Parliament. Our Members of Parliament, cannot therefore, shy away from performing this duty to clean up this Bill after it has passed the Second Reading,” said Mvula.
The CGN has noted the recommendations of Parliament Select Committee to reject these provisions which have been rejected by a cross section of our society and said such recommendations should be deemed as having narrowed or diminished the differences among those opposed Bill 10 and those who proposed the clauses.
“What remains then is for Parliament to use its internal procedures to clean up the Bill by ensuring that it reflects the consensus which has now been arrived at through the Recommendations from the Parliamentary Select Committee. As youths, therefore, we believe the politicking associated with Bill 10 must be redirected to discussions on how best to bring changes to Bill 10,” he said.
Mr Mvula cautioned Members of Parliament against shooting down the Mixed Member Proportional Representation system whose aim is to give voice to persons who are disabled, women and the youth a chance to be represented in the National Assembly of Zambia through affirmative action.
“There is totally no justification for withdrawing the Bill when procedure in parliament allows the cleaning of the Bill by removing clauses which have been opposed but promoting clauses such as the MMPR system which women and the youth and the disabled have been fighting for.”
He appealed to MPs is to listen to their conscience and participate in debating and refining Bill 10 and said the CGN is convinced that a few good MPs will listen to themselves, and their conscience and will not be coerced to stay away from debating such an important matter.