The Grand Coalition on a people driven Constitution should be commended for embarking on the simplification of the draft of the Bill of Rights and its decision to start sensitising the public on the contents of the piece of legislation before the National Referendum scheduled for August 11.
This is as it should be in a functioning democracy such as the one Zambia espouses.
Government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should not always be on each other’s proverbial ‘necks’.
They should be partners in development and always work together to achieve the desired results.
This is not to say Government and NGOs should not criticise each other. It is healthy to criticise each other when the intention is to build and arrive at positive results.
With the Government’s resource envelope strained because of internal and global effects on the economy limiting budgetary allocations, the coming on board of the coalition to simplify the draft Bill of Rights and sensitise people on its content is good news.
It is a departure from the past performance of Grand Coalition in the law making process which ushered in the amended Constitution.
The Grand Coalition concentrated on how the process should have been and not the content of the draft Constitution.
The Grand Coalition wanted the entire draft Constitution subjected to a Referendum without looking at the individual clauses.
The results of the inability of NGOs to sensitise the public on the contents of the draft Constitution are so clear.
Even members of Parliament who voted for the document during debate in the House are acting more ignorant than some members of the public.
The immediate clause is that of Grade 12 certificate which is one of the requirements for those wishing to stand for elective positions such as civic leader, mayor, Member of Parliament or even President.
Even political parties which were members of the Grand Coalition and are in Parliament are denouncing the Grade 12 clause when it had always been in the draft Constitution which they wanted to go straight to the Referendum.
Some politicians are now blaming President Edgar Lungu for a clause which had been in the draft for more than a year before the draft Constitution was tabled in Parliament.
This should be avoided and the decision by the Grand Coalition to sensitise the public on the contents of the Bill of Rights is the way to go.
It is expected that when the draft of the Bill of Rights is simplified and the public sensitised, areas of differences would be minimised, if not eradicated.
With four months remaining before the general elections and the National Referendum, it should be everybody’s hope that this is sufficient time for Zambians to decide on what they want in the Bill of Rights.