CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT RUCKUS

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THE ruckus being created over the Constitutional Amendment Bill is uncalled because the process is still on-going and not a closed matter as some civil society organisations would want Zambians to believe.

The process is still very much alive and submissions can still be made to the Parliamentary Committee for consideration, a move that many have taken advantage of.

However, we must hasten to mention that in a democracy, even disagreements are welcome because these help to shape into a more tolerant society.

We may disagree with people spending money and energy pursuing an agenda that stands to benefit only themselves, but we respect their rights to do so.

It is however, surprising that people are spending money and energy denouncing an exercise on national building when they had an opportunity to do so during the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) but spurned their chance.

Now, people are spending relentless hours and money jumping from province to province to complain about resolutions of the NDF and the subsequent Constitutional Amendment Bill.

But is it too late for any concerned member of the public to submit their views on the proposed amendments? Absolutely not. This is the point that Government Chief whip, Brian Mundubile was emphasizing when he featured on the Zambia National Broadcasting Services (ZNBC) Sunday Interview. Those who mean well for the country will still submit their concerns and/or  misgivings to the Parliament Committee because the law allows for this.

It is not a closed affair, as some sections of society might want to portray the matter. For instance, the Patriotic Front (PF) last month issued a statement detailing what clauses they supported and those they objected to.  Other organisations have equally issued statements to indicate their support or displeasure, as the case may be on the proposed constitutional amendments.  This is as it should be.

We agree with Southern Africa Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) Executive Director Boniface Cheembe’s advice to those opposed to the constitutional amendment process not to demean the efforts of the people who fought hard to come up with Constitutional Amendment Bill at the National Dialogue Forum.

 Mr Cheembe in an interview yesterday, said it was wrong for some individuals to mislead the nation that the Amendment Bill did not mean well when there were progressive clauses in it.

He said stakeholders who sat at the NDF ensured that reasonable clauses were arrived at for the betterment of the nation.

Those who are not in support of some clauses, Mr Cheembe said, should take advantage of the consultative process to air their views during the Parliamentary Committee, instead of lying to the nation.

There is no one stopping them from submitting their objections to the Parliamentary Committee because this is all part of democracy. What is wrong is an attempt to deliberately paint a wrong picture of the process which was attended by imminent people in society as well as organisations.

The current process of refinement should be used as a chance to deal with all the issues that people may have concern over.

What should not be allowed, is for a clique that thinks they have the preserve on knowledge to derail a noble exercise.

For instant electoral clause dealing with the presidential election petition currently limits this to 14 days within which presidential election petition should be heard.  Because of the ruckus that this caused in the 2016 presidential election, we think it is prudent that it is resolved now so that the nation can go in the 2021 elections with clear and an unambiguous guidelines. This is what Zambians want and expect leaders to deal with.

The voices of paid civil society organisations should not supersede those of Zambians whose voices were represented in the NDF through their elected Members of Parliament.

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