ZAMBIA Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) says it concerned with the declining levels of vigilance among Zambians as they continue watching and saying nothing on the increasing incidents of human rights abuse, political violence and high levels of corruption.
And the ZCCB has insisted that Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 of 2019 does not reflect the constitutional majority Zambians.
In a statement, Tuesday, ZCCB president Rt Reverend Bishop George Lungu said Zambians should speak out on the poor observance on the rule of law.
“[We are] inspired by deep sights from the word of God and the social teaching of the church and our prophetic call to uphold the dignity of every person as well as the need of our political leaders to promote and defend the rights of all Zambians regardless of their political persuasion, creed color of belief and by our own desire and that of many Zambians to voice out and respectfully engage with duty bearers on pertinent and socio-economic and political issues. [We] appreciate all the efforts that have been made by the government and all its collaborations to formulate the current Constitution Bill No 10 f 2019 which is on the floor of the House waiting to be presented for the second reading. We acknowledge the desire and need for Zambian to address the lacunas that are in the 2016 Amended constitution,” read the statement.
“We are encouraged by the realization of many Zambians that the said Bill in its current form does not reflect the constitutional majority Zambians and that is why a lot of reference is being made to the parliamentary committee report on Bill 10 and the suggestions of changes to be made to Bill 10 by Cabinet who are the primary mover of the said Bill. We aware and concerned about the dwindling levels of vigilance among Zambians in general as they continue watching and saying nothing on the increasing incidents of human rights abuse, political violence, high levels of corruption, poor observance of rule of law and now the manipulation of masses over Bill 10 exhibited by those who have taken it upon themselves to popularize it.”
Bishop Lungu sympathized with the people who were denied their right to exercise their freedom of expression
“Firstly and in line with our prophetic mandate, we wish to express our solidarity with the many Zambians who are denied their right to exercise their freedom of expression and assembly including the youths whose cry has become louder in recent days Secondly, we firmly believe that any legitimate process of making reviewing and amending the supreme law of the land ought to be premised on a process that is widely inclusive, transparency, accountable and anchored on consensus building rather than partisan interests,” he said.
And Bishop Lungu observed that Bill 10 had become a source of division in the country saying it lacked genuine consensus
“Having taken a comparative analysis of Bill 10 the Parliamentary Report on the same bill and the current amended constitution of 2016, we note that while Bill 10 may contain some progressive clauses, it also contains some retrogressive and highly contentious causes such as the provision for deputy ministers, proposed changes in the electoral system regarding mayors, council chairpersons, members of parliament and the President. The proposed revision of the composition of Cabinet. Unfortunately we have observed with regards to Bill 10 is that the process that was undertaken lacked genuine consensus and has become a source of division in the country. Instead of bringing Zambians together for a common cause it has further polarized them,” Bishop Lungu said.
He said there was need for dialogue with all stakeholders for a people driven constitution to stand the test of time.
“As we have said before, the making of a people driven constitution that would stand the test of time calls for a spirit of dialogue with all stakeholders. This dialogue involves a courteous discussion with a view to reaching or at least moving closer to a consensus. This requires stakeholders to be open, to be ready to listen, and to share positions that will see a better future. We therefore appeal to the citizens of Zambia for a high level of patriotism and love of neighbor even when you disagree with their views. We appeal for an altitude of willingness to enter into fruitful and genuine dialogue,” he said.
Bishop Lungu appealed for members of parliament to respect the majority of Zambians on Bill 10.
“We thereby make our earnest appeal to the conscience of all members of parliament across the political divide to respect the majority Zambians and immediately withdraw the said Bill 10 from the floor of the House. At the same time, we urge the people of Zambia not to lose hope we genuinely believe the words of our Lord Jesus Christ that those who hunger and thirst for justice will in the end be satisfied. We further call on all well meaning and God fearing Zambians to pray that the Almighty God not only blesses this nation but also let justice flow like a river and integrity like an unfailing stream ( Amos 5:24),” said Bishop Lungu.