The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) is disheartened with the recent statements by the government through the Vice President Guy Scott, and the Minister of Justice, Wynter Kabimba, calling for further debate on the final draft constitution once it is released to the public.
LAZ president George Chisanga has observed that the new constitution making process proposed by Dr. Scott and Mr. Kabimba would lead to the breakdown of the constitution making process because it would not produce positive responses from members of the public who have already submitted to the Technical Committee. He demanded that government should immediately carry out its duty by releasing the draft constitution without any further delay.
“The government must immediately carry out its duty by releasing the draft constitution without any further delay. LAZ particularly urges the Republican President Michael Sata to act as mandated by Article 44 of the constitution and ensure that the new constitution is enacted through the process which was in contemplation when he appointed the Technical Committee on drafting the new constitution,” said Mr. Chisanga.
He said according to the mandate given by government to the Technical committee drafting the constitution, the constitution making process had been subjected to national wide consultation when the committee went around the country collecting views from the people of Zambia on what should be contained in the new constitution.He said it was public knowledge that in the process of engagement undertaken by the Technical Committee drafting the constitution, consultations were held at districts level through representatives appointed by district cell groups.
“The districts made recommendations which were included in the report submitted to provincial conferences which were held in all provinces of the country. At the end of the provincial conferences, delegates made recommendations after subjecting the report of the TC to intense debate. In addition, the provincial conferences also chose representatives to participate at the National Convention which was held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre,” he said.He said the work of the technical committee after the National Convention was to actualise the draft to be released to the public so that the public could study it to determine for themselves whether or not they agreed with the content.
“The public has not been given any convincing justification for opening the new debate on the draft constitution. The government has not even informed the nation who will direct new debate considering that the mandate of the TC ended or will end with the submission of the final draft. It is also unclear what is hoped to be achieved by the new debate,” said Mr. Chisanga.He said the only agreed way by all stakeholders was to subject the draft to the referendum for Zambians to give themselves a constitution which would represent their desires.
“It has to be emphasized that the reason for appointing the Technical Committee under Article 44 of the current Constitution was to give dignity to the process and also to ensure that the process of making the constitution is owned by the people,” said Mr. Chisanga.He said that Zambians were entitled to be accorded the dignity and respect of making their own choices regarding the making of the constitution.