CARITAS Zambia has questioned the Government over the proposed roadmap on the Constitution following the ministerial statement in Parliament by Justice Minister, Ngosa Simbyakula.
Caritas Zambia executive director Samuel Mulafulafu said despite the proposed idea looking promising to Zambia, he wondered how some non-contentious issues would be identified.
Mr Mulafulafu asked what guarantee there was that the Government was sincere in its dealings in the constitution- making process, ‘‘given its insincerity in the past’’.
“The proposal by the Government is looking good, but there are still questions that need to be answered.
Someone could ask if Parliament will be free to debate those non-contentious issues brought before it and choose what they want, and this is likely to once again take us to the history of white papers that undermined the will of the people,” he said.
The Government proposed the constitution-making process to have four elements, that was to identify non-contentious clauses in the final draft Constitution, taking the identified non-contentious clauses to Parliament for constitutional amendments, enacting a legal framework that will protect and guide the proposed roadmap and the Bill of Rights and Article 79 to be determined through a referendum vote that will take place simultaneously with the 2016 general elections.
Mr Mulafulafu observed that the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) had a load of work to do before the 2016 general elections, and wondered how possible it was that the commission could manage the complexity of adding the referendum vote to the already overloaded elections.
Meanwhile the members of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Monze diocese have rejected the proposal by the Government to hold the referendum and general elections simultaneously in 2016.
CCJP chairperson Simon Musune said the position taken by the Government on the constitution-making process as revealed by the Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili recently was disappointing.
Mr Musune said the people of Zambia had been clear in demanding for a new people- driven Constitution that would address human rights and the rule of law.
“We want the Bill of Rights in the current draft Constitution, and the demand by the people can only be possible if the new Constitution is adopted through a referendum and not during the 2016 general election,” he said.
He said the Bill of Rights was not only considered as paramount to the new constitution making-process, but also should be seen as an inevitable inclusion in the Constitution because of its significance to the well being of the entire nation.