Four Civil Society Organisations have formed a coalition organisation called Constitutional Reform and Education Coalition whose mandate is to defend and protect the resolutions of the National Dialogue Forum.

And the coalition, which consists of the Media Institute for Southern Africa (MISA –Zambia), Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), Southern Africa Centre for Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) and Chrizzina Democracy University, says the NDF is a credible process with clearly outlined objectives.

In a statement read by MISA Zambia vice-chairperson Hyde Haguta, the civil society organizations say they decided to form the coalition in order to protect the outcomes of NDF.

“From the process going on at the Forum, we don’t believe that our peoples agenda and our CSOs agenda may completely be defeated as we have seen the cordial spirit and attitude of give-and-take from all members of the Forum. Where our proposals are accepted, we shall rejoice and stand by the Forum’s decision. Where the proposals of those who have argued their points have been accepted and ours not taken on board, we shall hail our democracy and still stand by the decision of the Forum,” Haguta said.

“We therefore, wish to announce the formation of the Constitutional Reform and Education Coalition (abbreviated as CRECO), a Civil Society driven movement whose core aim is to purely protect the content as agreed by stakeholders from this NDF process.”

Haguta asked other CSOs and parliamentarians to join the process because it was credible.

“As members and organisations who decided to participate in the Forum, we want to hail the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), some Members of Parliament and our fellow Civil Society Organisations who had initially indicated they would not participate in the Forum for change of mind and joining this historical law-reform and law-making process. In a democracy as we have known, rigidity of the mind has no place but we must all open ourselves up to debate even against those who share divergent views against us,” he said.

“The last two weeks we have participated in the Forum, we have observed the free, objective and passionate debate among all members of the Forum in the spirit of republicanism, mother land and one Zambia, One Nation with stakeholders openly agreeing and disagreeing. Ministers have deferred among themselves on various contentious clauses in the Bills or Siavonga resolution, We have disagreed among ourselves as CSOs who are participating in the Forum. The Honorable Members of Parliament have differed among themselves, just as we have seen representatives of Government Ministries and other statutory bodies differ among themselves. The political parties have also not been spared from having divergent views among themselves.”

And Haguta said the NDF was a credible process that was protecting the interests of all Zambians.

“We must categorically state that all stakeholders participating in the Forum came with a clear and conscise agenda. Others came to defend provisions that speak to women’s rights, the rights of the youth, the need to have laws that are friendly to the media, protection of national security and maximising the use of our meagre national resources among others. Ultimately, our common mission at the Forum appear to have come out much clear in the last few days: Zambia needs to overhaul our laws with the aim of strengthening our governance system. To us, what is going on at the NDF is a clear indication that the interest of Zambians is being protected and secured by everyone and our democracy is maturing,” said Haguta.

“As CSOs, we can now confirm that the NDF process is more credible and focused, a process whose clear goals are outlined. We are sure and confident that this national dialogue process is in safe hands of participating institutions and citizens despite a few Challenges. Although we respect the right of those who have stayed away to freedom of assocation, as CSOs we regret to note some stakeholdes chose to boycot this important consultative process and have missed another opportunity to set the governance record right for mother Zambia and Zambians. The disturbing thought that still lingers in our minds for those who have stayed away is the same one as those that linger in our minds when we see citizens refuse to turn up to cast a vote in an election because they can not trust politicians.”