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Civil Society Organisations commends MPs for protesting

Filed under: Breaking News |
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A Consortium of Civil Society organization pushing for the immediate enact of the new constitution on this morning met and lauded Members of Parliament for staging a protest in Parliament.

The CSOs have retaliated their demand for a new constitution and asked for President Michael Sata’s government to release the draft of the new constitution to the public.

Below is a statement in full.

STATEMENT BY CIVIL SOCIETY ON THE ACTION BY PARLIAMENTARIANS ON CONSTITUTION, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2014 AT JCTR AT 9:00HRS
WE the civil society demanding for the immediate release of the final draft constitution to the Zambian people would like to applaud and commend the Members of Parliament for their boldness and bravery shown yesterday in calling for the government to release the final Draft Constitution and engage in a transparent process of enacting the new Republican Constitution that will reflect the aspirations of Zambians.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Members of Parliament’s action yesterday on the floor of the House left many CSOs and those demanding for the immediate release of the final constitution extremely excited and humbled.
This single action alone from parliamentarians which led to the premature adjourning of parliamentary business yesterday was nationalistic and a mark of true patriotism and representation of the people’s needs and demands on their government.
For a long time, many Zambians were looking to the parliamentarians to demonstrate leadership on this matter which, yesterday was exhibited in abundance. We found their decision selfless and in furtherance of people’s aspirations of having a constitution which will provide for a strengthened bill of rights, genuine and effective representation of the people and providing for real separation of powers which encourage transparency and accountability.
Further, we find the statement by the Minister of Justice to lack any substance but the usual rhetoric except for revealing that he refused to accept the final draft constitution when the Technical Committee attempted to hand it over to him.  Otherwise, the minister’s statement did not respond to the current demands from majority Zambians on government to urgently release the constitution and outline a clear roadmap on the process.
The reasons he advanced in parliament were clearly imaginary and seeking to apportion blame on the technical committee regarding why the final draft Constitution has not been made public to date. The nation is fully aware of the many attempts by the Technical Committee to handover the document to the President and that all efforts failed due to the government’s averseness to transparency.
We therefore repeat our demands as follows:
1.    The government must officially release the final draft constitution and the report to Zambian so that Zambians can study them and decide on the form of support they will render to the next processes;
2.    Communicate to the citizens  a clear and timely roadmap on the constitution making process so that Zambians can have a new constitution before the 2016 general elections;
3.    Appoint a Referendum Commission and begin the process of holding a Referendum to vote on the new constitution.
We, the civil society, therefore stand shoulder to shoulder with the parliamentarians and would like to appeal to all Zambians to apply the necessary pressure on the government to release the final draft constitution now.
We are ready to help the government in ensuring that the referendum is held in a manner required by law and ensure that citizens are sensitized on what is expected of them and mobilized to vote on referendum Day.
We also want to advise the government that it is not too late for them to change and begin doing the rights things when it comes to this process. Many people have genuine and reasonable expectations on the constitution and that this was not the time to fail them by engaging in self-preservation tactics which may not even guarantee their continued stay in power.

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