Mwanajiti roasts civil society


THE civil society and other stakeholders should not mislead Zambians into believing that the Constitution will be enacted by Parliament after adopting it through the referendum, says human rights activist Ngande Mwanajiti.

Mr Mwanajiti said whatever would be adopted through the referendum would be subjected to Parliament.

“Therefore, the civil society and other stakeholders in the constitutional-making process should stop being mischievous by misleading the people of Zambia that whatever would be adopted was the final product,” he said

Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Mwanajiti said people should realise that the enactment of the Constitution was a political process and not a partisan undertaking.

“We are looking at a process and not an event and process by its nature is not time bound. A political process is full of dynamics and one of the challenges you might wish to understand is that there are two aspects of the constitutional-making process which should be understood,

“These are the adoption of the Constitution and the enactment of the Constitution. Adoption is what is taking place and enactment is the preserve of Parliament,” said Mr. Mwanajiti.

He said the Constitution, unlike any other law must be protected and those thinking of  the change should look at article 79 of the current constitution and see what was there.

“The Constitution unlike any other law must be protected like any other law. For instance article 79 in the current Constitution makes changing the Constitution at will difficult,

“ You will recall that the last attempt to change the Constitution ended up in an amendment. If the Constitution had changed Zambia would have gone from third republic to fourth republic but that did not happen,” said Mr. Mwanajiti.

Mr. Mwanajiti also said those calling for the referendum should take time and mobilise people who they should engage in educational debates on certain laws they would love changed or amended rather than suggesting that the Constitution should change.

Mr. Mwanajiti said whatever route the people of Zambia shall take in the constitutional-making process it would end with Parliament debating it and therefore, it was important to finalize the adoption of certain clauses rather than looking at certain clauses some Civil Society Organisation were thinking was best for Zambia.

“This is as a result of a particular provision of the law in the Referendum Act which talks about registered voters versus illegible voters. We should have also a threshold one should decide whether the referendum has been successful or not. So we will ask a question that if Zambia and Zambians have not been able to register the required numbers now or percent of voters who will we expect to have illegible voters to be captured as registered voters in low turnouts? It’s not an issue which must be reduced to what you want or what I want,” said Mr. Mwanajiti.

He said people should realise that Zambians were living in a society where they were governed by the rule of law, adding that there should be need for the people to realise that the process being advocated for was an expensive undertaking.

“Let’s look at our priorities correctly. Let’s see if what will be adopted will be made into law? Look what is or would be adopted through the referendum will be subjected to Parliament for debate and enactment. So let’s stop being mischievous on this process,” said Mr. Mwanajiti.

Mr. Mwanajiti said there was no need for the people of Zambia to trade peace for acrimony in order for them to have a new Constitution.

Mr. Mwanajiti said the use of vulgar language, demonstration and picketing to push Government in the constitutional making process would not help the people of Zambia.

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