THE current impasse on the constitution-making process is as a result of failure by the Patriotic Front Government to learn from past mistakes and ensure that they put in place a legal framework to legitimise the document and the content itself, opposition UPND deputy spokesperson Kachunga Simusamba has charged.
But when contacted for a comment, Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili said the PF was committed to addressing issues of poverty, unemployment, health care delivery among other issues the people of Zambia were more interested in.
Mr Kambwili said it was shocking that UPND behaves as if the Constitution was the only problem the people of Zambia were facing, adding that the PF Government was aware of its pledge to honour the Constitution and would do it.
In a statement made available yesterday, Mr. Simusamba accused the PF Government of having commenced the constitutional making process without attaching any budget allocation to the whole process.
“It is interesting to note that the PF government commenced the current constitutional-making process without a budget, a legal framework nor a roadmap. Clearly the seeds of failure that would suffocate the process in future were sown at the genesis. Proposing a roadmap mid-way of a constitution making process is like putting the cart before the horse. It is illogical sequencing, typical of ‘chipante pante’ behaviour by the PF leaders,” said Mr. Simusamba.
He said it was clear that the roadmap unveiled by the “new” PF Government was a proposal to pursue a path of partial amendments to the Constitution.
Mr. Simusamba noted with sadness that the statements from Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili over the constitution making process only supported partial amendments of the constitution and not to give the people of Zambia a new Constitution.
He said Mr. Kambwili was on record of having said that Government found it more realistic to have popular demand provisions of the Final Draft Constitution of the Constitution Technical Committee that do not need a referendum be incorporated in the Constitution by amending the current Constitution.
Mr. Simusamba said Mr. Kambwili had indicated that this was not only cheap but also faster, considering that the elections were not very far. Mr Kambwili had said that through Parliament, all the provisions in the current Constitution that need to be changed could be changed, leaving out the Bill of Rights (Part 3) and Article 79 of the current Constitution.
“The path being proposed by the ‘new’ PF Government is not alien to Zambia. It was tried before under the leadership of former President Rupiah Bwezani Banda in 2011 and it proved to be a waste of both time and resources. Pursuing the enactment of a new Constitution using Rupiah’s failed strategy is a sure sign of failure,” said Mr. Simusamba. He said opposition UPND supported the need to have a people-driven Constitution which should be adopted through a referendum and not through Parliament.
Mr. Simusamba noted with sadness that the PF have continued giving Zambians excuses, adding that the current leadership had no capacity to do so because they had failed to do it in the period they had been in Government.