Oasis Forum chairperson Eddie Mwitwa has called on the executive to withdraw the proposed Constitution Amendment Bill from Parliament, saying the country is not in a constitutional crisis to have the process undertaken in a hasty manner.
In a statement, Mwitwa, who is also Law Association of Zambia president, expressed fear that a rushed amendment of the Constitution has never stood the test of time.
He said some flaws and defects identified in the Constitution Amendment Bill would be exposed in no time should Parliament proceed to adopt the document presented in the House last week.
“The Oasis Forum strongly objects to all retrogressive proposed amendments not only to the Republican Constitution, but also to other laws that govern us as a nation. Zambia is by no means in a constitutional crisis but might be driven into one with the proposed amendments to the Republican Constitution. The Oasis Forum also holds the view that the alleged defects or flaws identified by the movers of the Constitution Amendment Bill will no doubt come to the fore before long should the Constitution be hastily amended in the proposed manner, which will necessitate or motivate those in power to initiate further constitutional amendments in the near future,” Mwitwa stated.
“The Oasis Forum therefore calls upon the Executive to withdraw the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 from the National Assembly to allow for broader and meaningful consultations and dialogue over the proposed amendments. The Oasis Forum also desires to see dialogue on the possible amendments to Part III of the Constitution (the Bill of Rights) through a timely, well publicized and properly conducted referendum in the foreseeable future.”
He stated that the proposed constitution amendment will erode the progressive strides the country has made from the 2016 constitution enactment.
“The Oasis Forum joins the many voices that have been raised regarding the proposed amendments that have been tabled before the National Assembly, which in many ways, have left many Zambians with a number of misgivings and questions regarding the motives of the intended amendments to the Republican Constitution. Having considered the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019, the Oasis Forum is of the firm view that a number of the intended amendments would in fact erode the progressive strides that the country made in 2016 following the enactment of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act, No. 2 of 2016, less than four years ago,” Mwitwa stated.
He stated that the nation could not be in a constant and costly state of constitutional review and amendment processes.
“It is regrettable that since independence, Zambia has been involved in a number of processes to reform the Republican Constitution at great expense. For 53 years now, the people of Zambia have yearned for a good Constitution which would embody their collective will and aspirations and which would stand the test of time. Looking at the five attempts that have been made to reform the supreme law of the land, we see that this seems to have eluded us yet again,” Mwitwa stated.
“Whilst the nation was assured by the Honourable Minister of Justice in the year 2017 that the Constitutional amendments this time around would simply be to fine tune or refine the current Constitution and especially rid it of lacunas, the Oasis Forum was taken aback at the introduction of a number of substantive provisions in the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, which in fact and in effect will not amount to fine tuning the constitution but would fundamentally alter the basic structure of the Constitution of Zambia and the three arms of government, if enacted into law.”
And the Oasis Forum has called on Zambians to embrace one another and avoid clinging to any processes that might “heighten tensions in an already volatile political landscape”.
“Zambia will always remain bigger than any one individual, party or group of partisan interests and it is the Oasis Forum’s desire that the genuine spirit of ‘One Zambia One Nation’ will guide us all to truly exercise restraint, reflection and love at all times and on any given issue. We are all called upon to embrace one another and not cling to any processes that might heighten tensions in an already volatile political landscape. We all need to enhance love, unity and peace amongst all Zambians and therefore, the need for selfless and courageous leadership in this regard cannot be over-emphasized. We should all be seen to be contributing positively to the growth of Zambia’s democracy, which is critical for any country’s socio-economic development,” stated Mwitwa.