President Michael Sata joked about it and many other people have taken issue with the stance, but nothing seems to be registering.
The Grand Coalition on the campaign for a people-driven Constitution seems determined to impose its will on the people of Zambia.
What makes their process more people-driven than any other process?
The point President Sata may have been lost in the joke, but its significance should not have been overlooked because underlying the collation stance is the notion that they and they alone have the truth.
They alone know how the Zambian Constitution should be enacted and that they alone have the right answer to the problem.
This is excessive and objectionable conduct. It defeats the principle of moral relativism the principle in social science which states that there is really no right or wrong answer, it all depends on societal values and aspirations.
We appreciate the apprehension, concern and perhaps doubt the coalition may harbour against the road map that Government has adopted in the constitution-making process, but this represents only one view. It is an opinion held by a section of society, but this can hardly be described as being comprehensive, final and therefore definitive.
Many political parties, civil groups and individuals have weighed in on the process. Some have agreed with the Government while others have proposed other modes.
These are all valid and cannot be written off. In a working democracy diversity is the norm. Intolerance either by Government or those who hold different views defeats the essence of collective wisdom that derives its legitimacy from diversity.
It is very sad that our country has become synonymous with bigotry, and narrow-mindedness as was exhibited by the manner in which the third term debate was dismissed with such finality by pundits and groups that professed to hold the truth.
In Rwanda the Supreme Court has left it to the people to make the final decision rather than pontificate in a dogmatic manner.
Democracy has one enduring character: when in doubt defer to the people.
This is exactly what President Sata meant to say. What gives a special interest group such as the collation the finality in determining how the Zambian Constitution should be enacted and what role should the non-“coalitioners” play? Should they be mere spectators?
This will not happen. The coalition is not simply contending with the Government, but against many reasonable and sensible Zambians who do not agree to the proposition of a stand alone referendum which will cost the country dearly at a time when our economy is in dire straits.
Instead of issuing ultimatums and threats the coalition would do well to justify its position against the various views expressed by political parties which have agreed with the two- stage enactment.
What is wrong with it and what stands in the way of building safeguards to ensure that whatever doubts are removed without creating an impasse that is taking away from the serious problems that this country is facing at a time like this when mines are threatening to shed jobs and revenues are dwindling as a result of the commodity price crash.
Is this the best time for a referendum?