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Grand Coalition demands new constitution before 2016 General Elections

Filed under: Breaking News,Politics |
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The Grand Coalition on a People Driven Constitution unequivocally reiterates that the new people driven constitution should be enacted before the 2016 elections through a referendum. We find it ironic, hypocritical and downright deceptive for any organisation and or individual to cite the conducting of a census to determine the number of eligible voters and the update of the voters’ roll as impracticalities that will impede the enactment of a new constitution before 2016 when we know that the only impediment to Zambia having a constitution that we have longed for since attaining independence is lack of political will by successive presidents since independence. It must be categorically stated here that Zambia would have had its people driven constitution way back except that the leaders we have had in the past lamentably failed to exhibit any form of political will with regards to the constitution making process.

We are, therefore, optimistic that the candidate who emerges victorious after the 20th January, 2015 Presidential Election will make the enactment of the people driven constitution his or her number 1 priority. Zambia holds a census of population every 10 years and the results of each census together with the projections are valid for the 10 years in between the census. Therefore the question of holding another census before 2020 for the sake of conducting a referendum is invalid and not necessary, as Zambia only held its census in 2010. Besides the Referendum Act does not call for holding of a census but calls for ensuring that 50% of eligible voters be registered and take part in the referendum. One of the constitutional mandates of the Electoral Commission of Zambia according to the Electoral Act of 2006, is to ensure the continuous registration and update of the voters’ roll which unfortunately does not happen continuously but happens just before general elections and since Zambia is due to have a general election in 2016 we believe the updating of the voters’ roll can kill two birds with one stone; referendum before the 2016 elections and the general elections in 2016!

It is true that the Social Contracts that we as the Grand Coalition are requesting presidential candidates to sign are not legal contracts but has more binding force as it brings into sharp focus the integrity of the presidential candidate who pledges to rule by the will of the people which is the core tenet of democracy. We therefore believe that since the social contracts are voluntarily done there is no concrete litmus test that Zambians need to assess the integrity of the leader that will emerge after 20th January 2015 than the fulfillment of the principles contained in the social contracts. Every reasonable person knows that the law is meant to control those that are morally corrupt, while those with integrity can do the reasonable thing without the threat of the courts. Besides has Zambia sunk so low as to have all liars on the ballot paper for presidential candidates or it is the electorate that reject credible candidates and opt for morally corrupt leaders? Further it is important to note here that the Social Contract on the constitution is different from the political party manifestos as

these are done by political parties without consulting the people whereas the Social Contract is the people’s demand which is endorsed by the candidate and political party through signing the pledge.

To most people in Zambia the expanded Bill of Rights in the new people driven constitution that confers additional rights on the usually marginalised groups such as the women, children, the aged, persons with disabilities and the youth is arguably the most important part of the new constitution and nothing short of a referendum can bring to fruition the expanded Bill of Rights as per Article 79(3) of the current constitution which prohibits any alteration to the Bill of Rights without a referendum. Therefore, the referendum on the constitution before 2016 is not only inevitable but also practical and feasible as the collective agreement by the Grand Coalition and the Presidential Candidates that have signed the Social Contract and only people without integrity and with little comprehension of democratic governance can question the validity of these contracts.

We would like to assure the nation that the Social Contracts will effectively be used to make the leaders account for delivery or lack thereof of the constitution after 20th January, 2015. To that end we do not rule out actively de-campaigning the President who fails to deliver the constitution before 2016 in the run up to the 2016 general elections. In the same vein the Grand Coalition is appealing to the voters to consider those that have not signed the Social Contract on the Constitution as being enemies of the people who do not deserve to be voted for. Those refusing to recognise the Social Contract are leaders whose interest is continued abuse of national resources supported by a bad constitution that does not speak to the aspirations of the people and good governance while majority Zambians continue to suffer.

Lastly the Grand Coalition notes with happiness that the Draft Bill on the Constitution purportedly signed by the Solicitor General and to all purposes intended to circumvent the adoption of the new people driven constitution through a referendum and to enact the constitution through Parliament by use of the arrogance of numbers by the PF, does not exist as attested by the Patriotic Front (PF) Government through the Minister of Information and Broadcasting.

As long as the constitution is not put to rest through the consensus building and adoption through the popular mode of the referendum and final enactment by parliament the matter will remain on the national agenda and it goes without saying that any issue on the national agenda is a campaign issue by any politician worth his or her salt. It is our belief that the candidates that have so far voluntarily signed the Social Contract are men and woman of integrity who cannot lie or renege on their pledge.

Guess Nyirenda

Grand Coalition MEMBER

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