THE Constitution Amendment Bill, which among several major innovations reduces the power of the Presidency, was yesterday assented to by President Edgar Lungu, who declared that the legal restraint will practically replace the rule of men with the rule of law.
Amid ululations by thousands of Lusaka residents who packed the National Heroes Stadium to witness the historic signing, President Lungu also made a call to Zambians and other political players to note that the chapter of the constitution-making process should come to a close because the process had cost the country far too much money.
Zambia is now poised to go to the general elections this year under the new law with an election date set for August 11 while the winning presidential candidate would be required to garner 50 percent plus 1 of the votes cast.
The country would also go to the general elections with reduced presidential powers which President Lungu said achieved the aim of ensuring that power was commonly distributed through subjecting leadership to what he termed legal restraint that would replace the rule of men with the rule of law. Speaking on the occasion to mark the presidential assent to the Constitutional Bills yesterday, President Lungu stated that there had been a lot of debate about the enactment of the new Constitution in which some political parties staged protests inside Parliament by sit-ins for many sessions demanding that the new Constitution should be passed.
The President recalled that some political parties even caused near-chaotic scenes in Parliament vowing never to allow the 2016 elections to be held under the Constitution that has just been amended.
The Head of State said however that when the same new Constitution the opposition political parties had been demanding was taken to Parliament, the same political parties that had been protesting changed their position and refused to support it.
“Granted, politics is part of our broader democracy. Let us practise politics truthfully and responsibly. This document (Constitution) is too important to be left to mere politicking.
This document is too important to be left to lawyers, it is too important to be left to journalists, too important to be left to the church alone…it is too important to be left to any single unit of the nation, not even the President,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu said the new Constitution he signed into law should as much as possible speak to the broadest interests of Zambians apart from reflecting and aspiring to deliver the greatest assurance to the majority of citizens.
The President observed that while the Constitution guaranteed citizens’ rights and guarded them against various abuses, even the best of Constitutions could not ordain prosperity and requisite welfare of all citizens in the absence of individual and collective resolve to foster harmony and development.
The Head of State said the Patriotic Front (PF) shall continue to pursue its uniquely transformative development agenda which he said in its four and a half years of its administration had delivered development to far-flung areas of the country in ways never seen before.