Editor's Comment

Embrace Constitution process

FOR a long time, Zambians have desired a Constitution which will stand the test of time.
In pursuit of this, subsequent Presidents appointed constitution review commissions which received submissions from across the country.
Apart from submissions made to the constitutional review commissions, Zambia has had two constitutional conferences which were designed to fine-tune the Constitution.
The National Constitutional Conference was held before the 2011 general elections and most recently, the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), which provided for a national dialogue process to facilitate the Constitution refinement process, was also held.
Resolutions from the NDF have since been submitted to Parliament and have since gone through the first and second reading in Parliament.
The matter is now before the parliamentary committee stage, which is now receiving submissions from the public and stakeholders before it goes for third reading and hopefully assenting by the President.
However, there has been objection to the Constitution amendment to go ahead from the major opposition, the United Party for National Development, and other stakeholders.
Yet the party was part of the Siavonga resolutions of political parties relating to constitutional and institutional reforms.
The UPND had an opportunity to present its position as far as the Constitution is concerned to the NDF and its views were going to be taken on board.
But the biggest opposition party boycotted the NDF and has been totally against the Constitution refinement process, even when it has the opportunity to present its feelings to the parliamentary select committee.
The Constitution refinement should not be done at anybody’s or any one group’s expediency. It is not President Edgar Lungu’s document nor is it UPND president Hakainde Hichilema’s constitution. It is a Constitution of Zambia, one that embodies aspirations of the 17 million citizens.
Its refinement cannot depend on the wishes of individuals whether in the ruling or opposition political parties.
Therefore, the UPND and other interest groups objecting the refinement should not be looking at President Lungu but look at the bigger picture.
As stated, this Constitution is not a baby of the ruling Patriotic Front but the country as a whole. That is why there should always be consensus on constitutional issues.
If you do so, posterity will find you on the right side of things. Government, on its part, has provided a platform which the UPND should take full advantage of to express its desires.
Staying away like the UPND has been doing is never the solution. It is a gimmick long overtaken by civility. They need to engage at the highest level possible.
During the opening of the fourth session of the 12th National Assembly, President Lungu said good governance cannot be left to chance.
Mr Lungu said this important ingredient of democracy starts with the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, and his government has demonstrated to the Zambian people that it can be trusted to deliver on its promises.
Successive governments have come and gone, yet the constitution making process remained a process. Well, there may be no finality to this process because Zambia is a young democracy still learning.
If we may ask, what’s better between living with a defective Constitution and refining it? Our view is that we must continue refining until we reach a point of acceptability by the greater majority of citizens.
President Lungu is appealing to all citizens to support the current process.
Yesterday, President Lungu reiterated that the ongoing constitution amendment process is not aimed at only serving the interests of the current administration but those beyond.
Indeed, the constitution amendment process is for the benefit of all citizens now and beyond.
That is why all well-meaning Zambians, including the UPND, should file their submissions regarding the constitution amendment before the parliamentary select committee which is sitting till next week.
People should not worry about the sitting President but the governance system of the country.

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