MPOROKOSO PF member of parliament Brian Mundubile says the PF will only participate in the Constitution-making process if there is a higher standard than Bill 10.
In an interview, Mundubile highlighted some of the stages the Constitution Amendment Bill number 10 went through before it was taken to Parliament.
“On the Constitution-making process, the argument that is on the table, first of all, that we can’t run away from is the issue of hypocrisy that we must deal with. If you remember the process that we underwent with the Constitutional amendment bill number 10, there was a meeting of stakeholders at Mulungushi, [a] stakeholders’ summit that included everybody. That was the beginning of everything in that process. Out of that process, it was decided that political parties as major stakeholders must have their own meeting and agree on the [way] forward regarding the constitution-making process. Political parties resigned to Siavonga for three days where a Siavonga code was signed by political parties on how we are going to proceed with the constitution-making process,” he said.
“Once all that was going on, there was a team from the Ministry of Justice that was going around the country collecting submissions from citizens. After all those processes were done, Cabinet decided that there must be a bill brought to Parliament for enactment to enact the process of constitution-making. That is when the National Dialogue Forum Act was enacted. The National Dialogue Forum [Act] provided for the National Dialogue Forum, this was in order to ensure that the roadmap for constitution-making was governed by law. When all that was done our friends in the UPND, then in the opposition, still felt that process was not sufficient to gunner the relevant consensus.”
He said PF would only take part in the process if it was going to be higher in standard than the one the UPND rejected under Bill 10.
“The issues I have described, there are many stages. Our friends in the UPND said there was no sufficient consensus and that is why they did not support the constitution-making process. So if today you receive a letter as a political party with very few people on that list invited to go and make submissions, are you sure we are speaking the same language? Isn’t that hypocrisy? A process lower than the one they condemned is the one they want to use now, isn’t that hypocrisy? If that is not hypocrisy, then tell me what hypocrisy is?” Mundubile asked.
“For me, the only time we are going to take part in this process is when there is a higher threshold, there is a higher standard, higher than the one they rejected under bill 10. There needs to be a wider consensus and a wider consultative process, wider than the one we used. If we are going to go for a lesser or lower process in terms of threshold then we will be hypocritical in having condemned a process that was a lot wider.”
He said a constitution should be people-driven and further urged the UPND to begin with civic education of citizens on what a constitution is.
“So that is our position. For us, we will not sabotage the process, we will not be hypocritical in the process but we will not support hypocrisy in this process. We know what processes were said to be insufficient, what processes were said to be non consultative, what processes produced what they said was not enough consensus. So for our friends in the UPND, I am afraid that it has to be a very long process, starting with civic education of the citizens of what the constitution is and what is expected from them. If they will start now, we are really looking at having a new constitution around 2025, then we will believe it has been a much more consultative process going forward,” said Mundubile.
“If we start now, how are we going to tie it to the elections? We can only tie it to the elections if it starts near the elections. What is required in constitution-making? I am speaking as a constitutional lawyer because I am about to graduate with my masters in constitutional law, first is to legislate the constitution-making process, the road map so that every citizen is aware of what is happening. We must put safeguards in place, first of all, to ensure that the people of Zambia truly understand what a constitution is and what must go into a constitution. Once they have been educated to that level and they have made their submissions we must find a way of protecting the submissions that these people make. What we will not succumb to is a constitution by the elite, a few professors sitting in a hotel conference room and then coming up with a constitution, that we are going to resist. We would want a people-driven constitution.”