USA backs Constitution process as LAZ cry foul

UNITED States Ambassador to Zambia Erick Shultz has said holding a referendum as a stand alone means of coming up with a new constitution will be expensive for Zambia.
He said there was nothing wrong with Government’s proposed way of enacting the Constitution in stages.
Mr Shultz said the new Constitution could start with non-contentious clauses through Parliament.
He said the Bill of Rights and Article 79 could be subjected to a referendum alongside the general elections next year.
Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula recently announced that Government has decided to table all the provisions of the Draft Constitution prepared by the Technical committee on drafting the Zambian constitution except the Bill of Rights and the provisions on alterations of the Constitution provided for under article 79 of the current Constitution.
Dr Simbyakula said the Bill of Rights and Article 79 of the Constitution would be subject to a referendum during the 2016 general election.
However in contrast, the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) have opposed Government’s route of adopting the new constitution.
In a statement, LAZ president George Chisanga said the present manoeuvres by Government of directly opening debate on the contents of the Draft Constitution by placing the Constitutional Amendment Bill on the floor of Parliament, not only represented a radical departure from the process, but also represented a serious breach of trust reposed by the people of Zambia in the Patriotic Front when they accepted the promise made by the ruling party to give them a people-driven Constitution.
Mr Chisanga said by sending the entire final Draft Constitution to Parliament, excluding the Bill of Rights, the PF Government was for the first time attempting to introduce a completely new constitutional order.
“It will change our country as we know it through Parliament and to the exclusion of the wider community of stakeholders in the constitution-making process,” he said.
Mr Chisanga said LAZ was of the view that allowing the enactment of a new Constitution in such a manner set a very dangerous precedent as it assumed that parliament was more powerful than the will of the people of Zambia.

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