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Alba Iulia
Sunday, February 5, 2023

Provide a comprehensive legal reform roadmap, Justice Ministry told

Feature PoliticsProvide a comprehensive legal reform roadmap, Justice Ministry told

The Christian Churches Monitoring Group (CCMG) has reiterated the call to the Ministry of Justice to provide a comprehensive legal reform roadmap and to facilitate a platform for engagement and participation of various stakeholders.

CCMG has been advocating reforms relating to the republican constitution, electoral process act and the public order act.

Speaking at the stakeholder’s public forum on electoral and legislative framework reforms in Lusaka, CCMG Program Manager Peter Mwanangombe said time is ripe to make good of the shortcomings necessitated by the gaps in the legal framework and implementation through a robust, non-partisan, selfless, coordinated, participatory, and comprehensive reform process.

“As we draw close to the end of the year 2022, I want to thank God almighty for having inspired all of us and walked with us throughout the year. It is also a time for us to reflect on the achievements we have made towards making our country a better place. Earlier this year, CCMG launched its 2021 election report which highlighted a number of successes in the management of the 2021 elections particularly that it was held under the Covid pandemic. The report also highlighted several shortcomings in the process leading up to the 2021 elections. key among them was the gaps in the electoral legal framework (constitution, electoral commission of Zambia act, electoral process act), poor administration of the public order act, violation of media rights and freedoms, violation of human rights and the restricted civic and political space,” Mr. Mwanangombe said.

“In a statement read during the launch of our report, Fr. Emmanuel Chikoya and I quote “time for politicking is over “end of quote. Indeed, the time for politicking is over, now is the time that to make good of the shortcomings necessitated by the gaps in our legal framework and implementation through a robust, non-partisan, selfless, coordinated, participatory, and comprehensive reform process,” Mr. Mwanangombe stated.

He charged that many democratically elected governments are also adopting authoritarian tactics, often with popular support including the politicization of judiciaries, the manipulation of media, restrictions on civil liberties and minority rights, and the weakening of civil society.

“The global state of democracy 2021 shows that more countries than ever are suffering from democratic erosion, including in established democracies. Worryingly, many democratically elected governments are also adopting time-honored authoritarian tactics, often with popular support including the politicization of judiciaries, the manipulation of media, restrictions on civil liberties and minority rights, and the weakening of civil society. This is a reality that many gathered here are familiar with. It is for this reason that we again make a call to the ministry of justice to provide a comprehensive reform roadmap and facilitate a platform for engagement and participation,” Mr. Mwanangombe said.

He said going forward, government institutions, political parties, the electoral commission of Zambia, civil society and media must support reform of democratic institutions, legislative frameworks, processes and relationships.

“We also wish to take this opportunity to implore the ECZ to release its report of the 2021 general elections for the benefit of stakeholders and the public. The importance of this report cannot be over emphasized as it goes a long way in shaping the reform process. Going forward, government institutions, political parties, the electoral commission of Zambia, civil society and media must support reform of democratic institutions, legislative frameworks, processes and relationships so that we are better able to cope with the challenges of the 21st century. Our primary focus should be to protect electoral integrity, fundamental freedoms and rights, and offer checks and balances essential to thriving and resilient democratic systems. We must prioritize rebuilding mutual trust not only between citizens and their representatives but between citizens and their government as well as institutions of governance,” he said.

“This can only be achieved if we work together across the divide and put our country and the citizens first. We want to call on all stakeholders to utilize the resource we have developed in form of discussion papers namely, constitutional reform, electoral process act and code of conduct, independency and transparence of the ECZ and prison and diaspora voting, to advocate for reforms and call for comprehensive participation both from state and non-state actors,” Mr. Mwanangombe concluded.

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