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President Lungu, constitution

ESAU SIMUTOWE

ESAU SIMUTOWE
ON HIS first press conference, President Lungu warned Zambians against cutting and pasting over constitution-related matters without looking at Zambia as a unique country.
His critics said he was not committed to giving the Zambian people a new constitution.
The questions that arise when looking at this matter are: was President Lungu right by saying let us not rush into cutting and pasting clauses into our constitution? Was the President right when he said there is need to have a consensus over contentious issues in the constitution before coming up with the final document?
Do the Zambian people really understand the contents of the draft constitution? If they do, are they happy with the clauses in the draft constitution? Whose interests do the civil society organisations that are talking about the constitution represent? Is the constitution all about 50 percent plus one and the need to change things like the Public Order Act?
What role are political parties playing in this matter? Will the Zambian people accept to have a parliament that will have 100 MPs without constituencies on top of the 150 MPs who will have constituencies?
What things do the Zambian people (ordinary citizens and not leaders of political parties) want to be included in the constitution?
Zambia needs a constitution that will stand the test of time and President Lungu is right when he says there is need for a consensus on contentious issues that are in the draft constitution before rushing things.
Giving the Zambian people a constitution tomorrow or before the 2016 general elections is one thing and giving them a constitution that will stand the test of time is another thing.
It will be a waste of resources to rush into enacting a new constitution and later within months start calling for another constitution review commission.
This might sound funny to some people but that is the way it will turn out if the process is rushed for the sake of pleasing certain (few) individuals. Imagine that the Constitution of Zambia Bill was passed on March 29, 2011.
Were we not going back to the same constitution-making process when PF won the elections in September the same year?
These are things we might try to avoid before coming up with a new constitution. Of course, he can give us a new constitution any day but the quality of that constitution matters and his advice to the Zambian people to go through the contents of the draft constitution before making any decision is full of wisdom.
Before we shout for the new constitution before or after the 2016 general elections, let us educate the masses on the clauses contained in the draft constitution so that this matter will be closed and everyone will be happy with it. Let us not misrepresent the people in matters that will affect their lives.
Many people have not seen and do not even know what the new constitution based on the current draft constitution has to offer.
A constitution that will stand the test of time must be the dream of any Zambian who wants to see the country move forward and this can be achieved when we, the Zambian people, come together above partisan politics to agree on this important document of mother Zambia.
President Lungu, as the representative of more than 14 million people, needs the support of everyone for Zambia to have a constitution that will stand the test of time. On the constitution, it must be iseni tubombeko – come, let us work.
The author is a regular contributor to the Zambia Daily Mail.



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