NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale says it is flawed to claim that citizens who attended the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 debate were coerced into thinking a certain way when the organizers made an open invitation.

In a statement, Tuesday, Mwale said it was unfortunate, however, that some politically inclined people exhibited some intolerance.

“CSOs have a legitimate role to provide spaces for legitimate, citizens’ participation in the governance of the country. NGOCC is aware that the organizers made an open invitation to all members of the public to attend. This was done through a flier, which was clearly marked free entry. It is retrogressive and flawed to therefore insinuate that some citizens were coerced to peddle or “think” in a certain manner. This is what happens when sections of society choose to shun open democratic spaces,” Mwale stated.

“It is rather unfortunate that during the said Constitution Bill 10 debate, some politically divergent people may have chosen to advance non democratic tendencies by being intolerant to other people’s opinions. As citizens we must agree to disagree in a democracy. We all must appreciate that citizens’ engagement and participation is the cornerstone of any flourishing democracy. As defined by Abraham Lincoln, “Democracy is a government of the people for the people by the people”. Therefore the importance of these platforms can not be over emphasized.”

Mwale stated that such forums were augmenting the fact that Bill 10 needed wider consultation.

“It is also an important democratic tenet that these forums are augmenting the fact that Constitution Bill 10 still requires broad based consultation to accommodate wide perspectives for a more progressive process. In addition, while, one will argue that only Parliament has the legitimate power of enacting laws, the constitution, as a key governing tool, belongs to all Zambian citizens whose input remains critical through providing such forums during which they can air their views,” stated Mwale.