Editor's Comment

Thumbs up to CRECO on dialogue forum

THE decision by the Constitution Reforms and Education Coalition (CRECO), a consortium of non-governmental organisations, to embark on an ambitious countrywide tour to sensitise Zambians on the outcomes of the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) is commendable and must be supported by all well-meaning citizens.
According to CRECO vice-chairperson Boniface Cheembe, the organisation has taken it upon itself to inform the general populace the outcomes and successes of NDF.
“We want to demystify the issue of NDF by going around the country explaining to the people, the landmark decisions that were made. We are mobilising resources from cooperating partners as well as sacrificing for the country,” Mr Cheembe said.
This is indeed a good move considering that the National Dialogue Forum has been at the centre of negative propaganda by those opposed to the idea.
Before the NDF sittings, a lot of misleading messages were being spread by individuals with vested interests.
Some of the messages claimed that the NDF was a gimmick by the ruling party to manipulate the constitution to give the incumbent President undue advantage.
As such, some people opposed to the NDF decided to stay away based on their misguided views.
During the sittings of the NDF, it is surprising that people that absconded from the process were speaking the loudest, condemning some of the proposals.
It is therefore expected that these people will not give up on their ill-conceived agenda to discredit this well-meaning forum by spreading lies and misrepresenting the outcomes.
This is why it is important for those who were part of the forum, like CRECO, to go round and give people first-hand information.
We know that while the NDF sittings were beamed live on television and radio, not every citizen followed through.
While some people may have gotten snippets of information through various media platforms, others are still ignorant of what transpired during the NDF.
It is therefore commendable that CRECO has taken it upon itself to travel across the length and breadth of the country to sensitise the public.
Though the venture embarked on by CRECO is expensive, it is certainly worth it.
The NDF, which closed its doors on May 15 after sitting for 16 days, adopted a number of resolutions under the three bills, namely:
• The draft Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, 2019
• The draft Electoral Process (Amendment) Bill, 2019
• The draft Public Order Bill, 2019
While the number of proposed amendments to the Constitution, Electoral Process Act and Public Order Act are many, only a few seemed to have stolen the limelight.
Some of those that stole the limelight include the proposal on reappointment of deputy ministers, civil servants to resign two years before vying for political office, and provision for a coalition government, among others.
It is, however, important to note that many more resolutions beyond the few that received more publicity were made.
As the proposals go to Parliament to be debated and passed into law, citizens across the country need to be enlightened on the resolutions made by the NDF.
The electorate need to understand what their parliamentary representatives will be debating and passing into law.
This is an opportunity for the electorate to lobby their Members of Parliament on what position to take on resolutions presented by the NDF.
This is because the process is now beyond receiving submissions from citizens and various stakeholders.
Needless to say, the sensitisation programme by CRECO will help citizens to understand the resolutions and their appropriate context.
It is also important for citizens to understand the proposals in totality as opposed to just a few seemingly controversial ones.
As CRECO goes round the country, it should not restrict its interactions to hotels and other elitist places, but should go into communities and churches where the ordinary citizens are found.
It is also important to use local languages to allow more people, even the illiterate, to grasp the subject at hand.
This is what it means to be inclusive and leave no one behind.
The resolutions being proposed when passed into law will govern every Zambian. It is therefore important for all citizens to be familiar with the proposals made by the NDF.
As CRECO goes about sensitising the public, they will also do well to partner with various media platforms to ensure that their messages reach more people.

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