Draft constitution

THOSE opposed to piecemeal amendment  of the Constitution should come out with convincing reasons rather than proffer arguments that pass for politicking.

When the framers of our laws inserted the Referendum clause in the Constitution, they perfectly knew that it was meant for the Bill of Rights.

But even if the Bill of Rights is amended through a Referendum, the right to enact laws is  legally vested in the National Assembly.

In short, the Referendum does not enact laws as it is simply a mode of adopting laws before Parliament takes over to enact the commands of State.

Therefore, it is naïve for anyone to expect Parliament to be aloof in the constitution-making process when members are elected for the same purpose.

Whether considered intelligent or otherwise, Parliamentarians have the last say in the law-making process, including the Constitution.

This is the reason why we agree with the argument that non-contentious issues should be taken to Parliament so that the law-makers can debate them and enact new laws.

We say this because over the years we know what Zambians have been demanding and how successive governments have behaved.

For instance, Zambians are unanimously against parliamentary and council ward by-elections because they are a drain on public resources which would otherwise go towards social amenities.

Zambians are also agreed on the presidential running mate because it empowers the vice president to take over the presidency in case the office falls vacant.

Dealing with such electoral clauses and many others which are non-contentious would definitely go a long way in saving the limited State resources as they do not require a referendum.

Taking such non-contentious laws to Parliament now for amendments will in fact offer Zambians an opportunity to listen to the debates in the National Assembly and judge for themselves who is for progressive laws or not.

It will even be a litmus test for parliamentarians for the 2016 general elections as Zambians will know who is interested in their welfare by channelling public resources in development projects rather than by-elections.

If indeed the ruling party is scheming to deceive the public about introducing progressive laws when the intention is to enact retrogressive laws, then Zambians will certainly judge the Patriotic Front harshly at the 2016 polls.

 It is therefore logical for Zambians to allow the governing party and other stakeholders to agree on non-contentious issues to be taken to Parliament for enactment and later deal with the Bill of Rights.

Just as the Patriotic Front is not expected to have its way in the Constitution making process, the civil society should also understand that they are simply a stakeholder.

Therefore, the bottom line is consensus in the constitution-making process as no single group will have its way when the laws are supposed to be respected by all Zambians.

It is disingenuous to claim that contentious issues do not exist. There is the issue of land which is highly contentious. The chiefs do want it but many subjects want it in order to curb the abuse of customary land.

This matter cannot be resolved in a referendum. It must first be tackled by dialogue to reach consensus.

Every war, every conflict however acrimonious, always ends on a roundtable-our Constitution will not be any different.

Categorized | Editorial

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