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Cabinet has approved Bill to legalize Constitution refinement process – LubindaBy Mirriam Chabala on 15 Mar 2019
Justice Minister Given Lubinda says the Constitution amendment process will finally allow politicians to dialogue because the ZCID route has proven difficult.
Meanwhile, Lubinda says electing a council chairperson is currently more expensive than electing a member of parliament, something which could be rectified through the refinement process.
Speaking when he featured on Hot FM’s Hot Seat programme, Thursday, Lubinda said he would present a Bill to Parliament on Tuesday that would cloth the constitution amendment process with legality.
Lubinda said in order to attract the participation of all key stakeholders, ZCID would be kept far away from the constitution amendment process.
“We are determined to finish the constitution refinement process by July 2019. Let me just let out the cat from the bag, yesterday (Wednesday), Cabinet approved a bill that I will be presenting in Parliament on Tuesday, this is a bill that is going to cloth the whole road map that I presented with legality. The road map I presented was an administrative road map. Now we have decided ‘let’s go to Parliament, let’s legislate’ so that this road map is now a legally binding process… when I presented the road map, the only complaint I heard [from the opposition] is that ‘we will not make submissions because we haven’t been allowed to dialogue’. But the position I take is that the road map itself is that the process to allow people to dialogue on specific issues. So we are going to build on that and bring the political parties together to discuss, together with all those that made submissions,” Lubinda said.
“We will not bring them under ZCID because the ZCID route has proved difficult. Now we will bring them as individual political parties. Nashala neka (one man) parties are welcome, Chishimba Kambwili’s NDC is welcome, Mwenya Musenge’s NDC party is welcome, UPND is welcome, FDD… all political parties, whether they have presence in Parliament or not they are all to come to this meeting. On top of that, the Churches that did not make submissions for whatever reason, they should also come and make fresh submissions… Don’t get bogged down by this ZCID dialogue process, bring your views straight and we shall sit together. The issue of who is going to chair that centre is a matter that is going to be agreed upon by all the people who are going to come to that meeting. And because it will be based on consensus, our belief is that Chairperson shall receive the support of the majority of the people attending. We are hoping that this way, we can attract the participation of all those that are genuinely interested.”
And Lubinda said he was confident UPND would participate in the constitution refinement process.
“Even now when I hear [the media] quoting Mr Hakainde Hichilema saying he’s not going to take part in the refinement process, I think that for now all I can say is that I am sure they are going to take part. I am dead sure they are going to take part. They may have made those statements purely from a point of not having sufficient information. But now that they have all the information, I am sure that they are going to participate because it is in their interest, as much as it is in every citizen’s interest to ensure that we clean up the Constitution and to ensure that the Public Order Act is amended to suit everybody. The Public Order Act particularly is one piece of legislation that has been criticized left, right and centre by politicians. So now we are saying, please politicians here is the law, come and dissect it, rebuild it to suit everybody. Surely for a person to say ‘no I don’t want to take part in that process’ and yet that law is affecting me, for me it’s not believable and I don’t think anyone would do that. I think that all political parties will come on board,” Lubinda said.
“So I don’t think there would be any politician worth being called a leader who would refuse to participate in a process that makes it easy for them to engage in their political activities that makes it easy for Zambians to engage in national affairs. One such person who does that in my eyes does not qualify at all to be referred to as a leader of any kind, not a political leader, not an economic leader, not a business leader… such a person is a person that you want to put in a corner and leave them there to rot because they don’t add value to the nation.”
Meanwhile, Lubinda said electing a council chairperson was currently more expensive than electing a member of parliament, something which could be rectified through the refinement process.
“Issues like by-elections are issues that must be looked upon. At the risk of preempting what submissions we received, I just want to reflect on the issue of council by-elections. The people who drafted our constitution locked in the Presidency with regard to elections in the event that there is a vacancy at Presidency. But while doing that for one office, they forgot the many Council Chairperson offices. When we had a by-election in Lusaka, that was a mini national election. The cost is colossal and then we went into Chilanga and now we are going into Kafue for Council Chairpersons. In many places, electing a council Chairperson is even more costly than electing a member of parliament. These are things that we have an opportunity now to reflect upon and ask if can refine this constitution so that it is responsive to the day and be the one that meets the wishes and desires of people,” said Lubinda.
About Mirriam Chabala
Mirriam Chabala is a Zambian journalist who covers current affairs and writes in-depth feature articles on social issues.
Email: mirriam [at] diggers [dot] news
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