GOVERNMENT is ready to table non-contentious issues in the Constitution Amendment Bill when the Parliament resumes sitting on September 18, says Minister of Justice Ngosa Simbyakula.
He said the draft document has already been Gazetted and taken to the National Assembly in readiness for the Members of Parliament (MPs) to debate the Bill.
“The Bill is now at Parliament. Any bill that seeks to amend another law must be Gazzetted 30 days prior the first reading, so that has been accomplished.
“From there it does not go back to the Ministry of Justice, it goes straight to Parliament. The process is irreversible,” Dr Simbyakula said.
He was briefing journalists on the progress so far made in the current constitution making process via piecemeal amendment.
Dr Simbyakula said he was confident the Bill would not face much opposition from legislators as it would be a disservice to the Zambian people.
He said Zambians had adequate time to review the document from the time it was Gazzetted to the time it was taken to Parliament.
“The reason for Gazzetting is precisely for the public to acquaint themselves with the content of the document, and I spoke on several occasions in Parliament that the Bill will be Gazzetted and when it came out it was well publicized that the Bill had been published in the Gazzete,” Dr Simbyakula said.
He said MPs should be well informed on the people’s response from their various engagements with the electorates and put aside their partisan position in making progress on giving Zambians a new constitution.
“I would like to appeal to all Members of Parliament to put their partisan interest aside and put Zambia first as they deliberate on this Bill,” the minister said.
And Mr Simbyakula has affirmed Government’s confidence in the legislature to deliver on the Zambian people’s expectations of a new constitution against some pessimistic views on the current constitution process.
“All I can say is that the representatives of the people have a grave duty, very important duty, to do the right things for the future of Zambia.
“We are not doing this for ourselves; we are doing this for posterity, for the future of Zambia.
People must put aside parochial or partisan interest and think of Zambia,” he said.
He said he was optimistic that Zambians would support the Bill through their representatives as the house resumed sitting next Friday.
“I am optimistic. I am not a pessimist like others, I always think on the brighter side of things. That is what Zambians are all about,” he said.
Controversy has risen from some sections of society after the PF Government adopted a piecemeal Constitution making process which entails Parliament dealing with non-contentious issues in the draft constitution, while the Bill of Rights would be subjected to a National Referendum to be held parallel with the 2016 general elections.