Former Attorney General Musa Mwenye says Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 can never produce a good document because the process used to adopt it does not represent views of the Zambian people but rather protects the interests of those in power.
Commenting on the contentious Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 whose second reading was deferred to February next year, Myenye said whenever government or any ruling party owns the Constitution making process, citizens lose out.
He said government should only facilitate while allowing Zambians themselves to come up with their own Constitution.
“A lot has been said about the Constitution Amendment Bill 10. The contents of Bill 10 are worrisome but I think it is not helpful to even talk about the content of this Constitution before we talk about the process. Whenever the government or any ruling party owns the Constitution making process then you have lost it. The role of government is to facilitate a process that allows the people themselves to decide what is in the Constitution. This Constitution should be made by the people in our villages, in our compounds and suburbs and not a few politicians. That is why the Constitution starts with the words ‘we the people’ and not ‘we the ruling party!’” Mwenye stated.
“A flawed Constitution making process can never produce a good Constitution because the process always protects the content. Bill 10 was born out of a ‘dialogue’ process that was less than inclusive and certainly not as consultative as it ought to be. Major stakeholders such as the church mother bodies and the major opposition in parliament were not part of the process and the draft Constitution has to my knowledge not been sufficiently distributed and explained to the local people in our local languages.”
He insisted that Bill 10 would never produce a good Constitution in its current form, and especially that it had not been interpreted in in various local languages to allow every Zambian to familiarise themselves with the document.
“That process can never produce a people’s document that can stand the test of time. We are attempting to amend the 2016 Constitution that was made in a similar rushed manner with very little involvement of the people with the result that the referendum on the bill of rights failed. To be successful, the people must give to themselves a Constitution. These amendments we are talking about now have not even been interpreted into the local languages. There has been no education of the people whatsoever on the contents of Bill 10. How will our relatives in the village understand it? A good Constitution is made in a process owned by all the people without any suspicion,” stated Mwenye.
“If this Constitution is for all Zambians then it must be made by all Zambians. Government must only facilitate the process as a stakeholder but must not drive the process. There is a difference between a people driven Constitution and a ruling party driven Constitution. Zambia needs a people driven Constitution.”