The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has said the current republican constitution does not meet most of the people’s wishes and aspirations on fundamental issues.
CCMG Steering Committee Chairperson Bishop Andrew Mwenda said successive Constitutions have merely been imposed on the citizenry.
Bishop Mwenda was speaking during the Public Forum on Zambia’s Road To Legal Reforms Held on 27th September, 2022 at Government Complex in Lusaka.
The forum was attended by representatives from Cooperating partners, the Three Church Mother Bodies,Government, Caritas Zambia, Political Parties, the Electoral Commission of Zambia, Civil Society Organisations,University Students and the Media.
Bishop Mwenda said CCMG is advocating for legislative and electoral reforms conducive to social, economic and political development in Zambia.
“Since Zambia gained its independence 58 years ago, the country has engaged in several efforts to craft a legitimate, democratic and durable constitution that meets the aspiration of every citizen. However, for years, successive governments have promised to deliver a people driven constitution through different constitutional reviews, the result of these efforts has been that most of the people’s wishes and aspirations on fundamental issues have not been met and successive Constitutions have merely been imposed on the citizenry.On our part, the Christian Churches Monitoring Group envisions to be a vibrant agency for responsive legislative and electoral reform. We draw our mandate from our mission statement to strengthen genuine democratic electoral processes and encourage citizen participation in democratic governance in Zambia through civic and voter education, non–partisan election monitoring, research and documentation, electoral reforms advocacy and, capacity building of civil society organizations in democracy, elections and governance,” Bishop Mwenda said.
“We have purposed in our 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, to advocate for legislative and electoral reforms conducive to social, economic and political development in Zambia. It is for this reason we have gathered here to collaborate and work together with both state and non-state actors to champion the crafting of a document that is both coherent and future serving.Ladies and Gentlemen, earlier this year during the launch of the CCMG 2021 General Elections Report, we reiterated the fact that democratic elections bring to the fore strengths and weaknesses of the country’s democracy, for instance the principle of separation of power is tested on whether the Legislature is able to enact laws that support democratic elections or whether the Judiciary is able to litigate electoral related matters in a manner that inspires public confidence without interference of the Executive. Ladies and Gentlemen, our election report highlighted a number of shortcomings throughout the electoral process, and we made key recommendations to strengthen our democracy, electoral processes and operation of oversight institutions, these recommendations are aimed at improving our electoral environment for future elections and the electoral process,” Bishop Mwenda said.
He added that the confusion surrounding the pending Parliamentary by-elections in Kabushi and Kwacha is evidence that that current republican constitution lacks clarity.
“Since then not much has changed, recently like many of you, CCMG followed with keen interest the matter of public interest surrounding the eligibility of candidates whose elections were nullified by the constitution court to re-contest as Members Parliament for Kabushi and Kwacha constituencies and subsequently whose nomination papers were rejected by the electoral commission of Zambia citing Article 72 (4) of the constitution of Zambia Amendment Act No.2 of 2006.CCMG noted with concerns the confusion surrounding the state of the election in the two constituencies and the legal battles due to the lack of clarity in the current legal framework which is susceptible to different interpretation of the law from different stakeholders regarding the eligibility of candidates whose seats were nullified by the constitutional court. Furthermore, we have taken note of the recent resignation and withdrawal from the Kabushi and Kwacha elections by independent candidates in both instances, which actions have been another subject of public debate necessitated by the lack of clarity in the constitution,” Bishop Mwenda said.
The senior clergy said CCMG wants the government to draw a comprehensive legal reform road map and to expedite the legislative reform process.
“CCMG therefore calls on government to draw a comprehensive legal reform road map and to expedite the legislative reform process guided by consensus and broad-based consultations with stakeholders in order to enhance efficiency, transparency, credibility and accountability in the management of elections.”