Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba has been accused of being dictatorial for unleashing men and women in uniform on citizens who want to exercise their democratic rights.
Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe said this in responding to a letter written by Wynter Kabimba instructing police to rake stern action against YALI for holding fora to discuss the constitution.
Mr. Ntewewe in his response to the Minister’s letter dated 12 December 2012 said that the fora in reference was one of the many interventions citizens of Zambia needed to employ in the formulation of a people driven constitution as the reforms progressed.
“The Technical Committee which is now working under intense pressure from your office was informed of the same dialogue in Kasama and they sent apologies for the inability to attend our dialogue,” he cited.
Mr. Kabimba in his letter accused YALI of having abrogated the order to cease public activities concerning the constitution reform process that “your action was, therefore, in complete defiance of the government decision as contained in a letter referred to…” and that Police should “take stern action in future against anybody from your organisation who shall organise or conduct such a forum outside the supervision of the Technical Committee.”
Mr. Ntewewe explained that the legal affairs minister had failed to understand the provisions of the National Constitution which prescribed the fundamental freedoms determining the laws that govern without coercion.
He said it was frightening that as legal counsel, the minister decided to ignore the laws that guide a democratic country like Zambia, which dictate the rights of citizens such as to freely assemble, participation in public activities as well as engage in the country’s constitution reform process.
Mr. Ntewewe further explained that as an activity funded by tax payers money, the constitution reforms were a public undertaking for the Zambian people who have the right to be part of the whole process.
“There would be no reason at all for this process to continue receiving any support if government has positioned itself to control how people engage in this process by use if the Technical Committee,” he said adding that the process was estimated to cost the Zambian people over K110 billion in tax payers money.
Mr. Ntewewe said his organisation was unmoved by efforts to derail their full participation in the activities leading the attainment of a people-driven constitution and would seek legal counsel should such threats continue.
“Undeterred by the threats, YALI will continue to hold its activities which are legal and we are prepared to use all available legal means to defend the rights of our young people to participate in this process.
“Should your directive pose any further threats, we are ready to seek an injunction to restrain the Technical Committee from holding its activities in exclusion of our voices as citizens to contribute towards a people driven constitution,” he said.
Mr. Ntewewe has doubted Mr. Kabimba’s appointment as Justice Minister to have been anything progressive but “to frustrate the constitution reform process.”