THE Non-Governmental Gender Organizations’ Coordinating Council (NGOCC) says Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 lacks the standards of meeting the key principles of constitutionalism.

In a statement, Monday, NGOCC board chairperson Mary Mulenga reiterated calls for the bill to be withdrawn.

She appealed to ruling and opposition members of parliament to be concerned with the needs of others rather than their own.

“It is NGOCC’s considered view that Bill 10 in its current form, lacks the standards of meeting the key fundamental principles of constitutionalism, especially, in terms of enhancing citizen’s rights. It is our firm belief that the constitution reform should be guided by the broad principles of inclusiveness and enhanced participation of all citizens, the promotion and upholding of public interest, the promotion of equity and equality and to guarantee the state’s commitment to accountability and transparency. Only then will we ensure that no one is left behind. In this regard, NGOCC wishes to reaffirm that concerns raised by most stakeholders and which were acknowledged by the Parliamentary Select Committee cannot be ignored. As such the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee should form the basis for consensus building regarding the way forward with the constitutional making process beyond the current Bill that is before Parliament,” Mulenga stated.

“As NGOCC, we therefore, do not support Bill 10 in its current form and call for its withdrawal given that the process has not taken into account the people’s aspirations. We appeal to our lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition political parties to take on board broad-based considerations for genuine dialogue and be selfless by being concerned with the needs of others than their own needs; the way a mother’s devotion is to a child (child first before her own interests or needs). Please give Zambians a constitution that will embody their aspirations and one that will stand the test of time.”

Mulenga said the bill contained some progressive provisions but that a number of proposed amendments were highly contentious.

“NGOCC reiterates its position on the need for consensus building with regard to Constitutional Amendment Bill 10 which has created a lot of discontent amongst various stakeholders. NGOCC notes that Bill 10 contains some progressive provisions which include Article 47 (2), aimed at enhancing the participation of women, youth and those with disabilities in the governance of the country. Even with this provision, we are however, concerned that women’s participation in politics still remains a tokenism approach rather than a conscious conviction by all political players that women are equal partners in development. On the other hand, we also note that there are a number of proposed amendments that are highly contentious, including the provision for Deputy Ministers, which even the Patriotic Front party did not support in their submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee,” stated Mulenga.