Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says President Edgar Lungu is concerned with the criticism of the resolutions of the National Dialogue Forum by people who shunned it.
And Chanda says the President is worried with pronouncements by opposition members who plan to shoot down the constitution amendment bill when its taken to parliament next month.
Speaking at a press briefing at state house, Wednesday, Chanda said the Head of State was not happy that some people were planning to protest against the resolutions of the NDF when they shunned the process.
“I called this press briefing to give a preliminary reaction of his Excellency to the resolutions of the NDF. He finds it very strange and undemocratic for some parties, individuals and organisations that shunned the forum to begin to raise allegations against him about having influenced the direction of certain resolutions. That, I must state from the outset that it is absurd that the forum that was open to everyone, and now those same people who shunned it are now coming up with unfounded allegations, they are now going round and staging demonstrations. Let me state that the right to demonstrate to assemble is a constitutional right provided for within the Constitution of Zambia. But it is absurd that you can want to petition the President to do or not to do something when a platform was provided for under the NDF,” Chanda said.
“The NDF was a product of the democratic process through the enactment of an appropriate law in Parliament and debate took place. The next stage is that the resolutions of the NDF will now go through the stages prescribed by law which is that cabinet looks at them and presents a constitutional amendment bill to parliament. These people who are raising placards in the streets because they couldn’t go to the NDF, they can now go to the Parliamentary Committees and submit their views; that is the position of the President. Whether it is the objection on pension, whether it is the objection on deputy ministers, or on 30 days of Presidential petition. The President has taken note of the major points of debate, which is on the deputy ministers, which is on the 30 days of hearing the petition, the clause on the pension regulation which says someone remaining on payroll after retiring is straining the treasury, declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation and the election of mayors, he has taken note of all those.”
Chanda said President Lungu was not going to trample on the views that were democratically presented during the NDF.
“In the spirit of the democratic nature that he stands for as a democratically elected President, he cannot stampede on the set of views of a certain group of people who were at the NDF against another sections, these views have been put across. An opportunity for addition, subtraction or refinement of inputs still exists in Parliament because it is the only legally mandated body that can enact a law, and in this case, that process is still ongoing. So the President finds it strange and objectionable that petitions must be presented to him, that people must be taking to the streets, that people must be opposing things that they did not oppose when they had an opportunity,” Chanda said.
And Chanda said President Lungu would listen to the popular view on the proposal to re-introduce the position of deputy minister.
“The President’s reaction is that he will listen to the overwhelming reaction of the people. He takes note that this matter came up 3 years ago and he signed the law that excluded the appointment of deputy ministers. His position is that overwhelming views on the people is what will carry the day. Because he does not want to stifle debate on the resolutions of NDF, he does not want to make his position known on the specific subjects where he stands. But under a democratic process, he will listen to the voice of the people, because the voice of the people is the voice of God,” Chanda said.
Chanda further said the President was worried with pronouncements by the opposition to shoot down the constitution amendment bill when its taken to parliament next month.
“Any democratically elected President would be worried by such illiberal pronouncements, it’s undemocratic that one person can just stand up and say because they did not take part in the process, therefore they are going to kill the bill that seeks to advance the calls of the people. The example that I can give you is that in 2016, somebody killed the referendum that would have guaranteed freedom of the press, that would have guaranteed social and economic rights. Yes, the President is extremely worried about such undemocratic views by the opposition,” said Chanda.