Saturday, June 02, 2007

Levy is frustrating people's efforts

Levy is frustrating people's efforts
By Noel Sichalwe
Saturday June 02, 2007 [04:00]

THE Oasis Forum yesterday refused to be intimidated by President Levy Mwanawasa over their stance on the constitution review process. Speaking after an Oasis Forum meeting, spokesperson Musa Mwenye said President Mwanawasa was trying to frustrate the efforts of people that wanted a new constitution to be adopted through a constituent assembly.

The Oasis Forum’s meeting followed President Mwanawasa’s decision to intimidate Mwenye regarding its stance on the constitution review process. Mwenye confirmed on Thursday that President Mwanawasa phoned him around 12:00 hours and interrogated him on the statements he had issued in the media.

President Mwanawasa confronted Mwenye after he issued a statement published in the Post edition of Wednesday that Oasis Forum would continue fighting for the will and aspirations of the people until a new constitution was enacted.

However, after the meeting yesterday, Mwenye said President Mwanawasa should do what people wanted. “We remain resolute because this is the fight for national good. We will continue to speak for our people,” he said.

Mwenye also confirmed having spoken to President Mwanawasa for the second time on phone around 18:00 hours on Thursday.

He said they spoke for one hour during which he presented evidence of President Mwanawasa’s speech of May 4, 2003 at a meeting with CRC members and other stakeholders.

According to the speech, President Mwanawasa committed himself to uphold the aspirations of the people through their submissions to the CRC.

“In this regard, I pledge and do hereby commit myself and my government, except as impeded by law or by lack of resources, to uphold the will and aspirations of our people through their submission to the Constitution Review Commission and to implement the recommendations of the Constitution Review Commission as representing the broadcast views of our people,” President Mwanawasa had said.

“On my part and indeed on the part of my government, we shall not do anything which obstructs or undermines the work of the Commission or anything which undermines the objective of completely achieving the will and aspirations of our people.”

“Let it not be historically registered that Zambia failed to attain people-desired constitution because Levy Mwanawasa as President and his government subverted the work of the Constitution Review Commission. It is very clear that a great number of our people would prefer that the mode of adoption of the next constitution should be through the constituent assembly. I have said many a time that I too prefer the adoption of the constitution through a Constituent Assembly.”

Mwenye further said the Oasis Forum was challenging information minister Mike Mulongoti to publish the proposal he was referring to that indicated that its members wanted about K500,000 per day for being part of the constituent assembly. He said where there were national issues such as the constituent assembly, funding was provided for from the state coffers.

Mwenye reiterated the position that they would continue fighting for the will and aspirations of the people until the new constitution was in place.

“We can’t trust government over the constitution,” he said. “Historically, government has shown deceitfulness and lack of commitment in enacting a new constitution.“

He urged President Mwanawasa to keep his word on the need for a new constitution and uphold the wishes of people.

“We will fight for a new constitution no matter what maneuvers,” he said. “There has been a suggestion that Oasis Forum does not have members. Just to give you an example, NGOCC has 83 member organisations like Women for Change which has over 300,000 members. The National Council for Catholic Women that is a wing in Zambia Episcopal Conference has one million members.”

Mwenye also said it should be noted that 2,166 submissions to the CRC did not represent people but that they were made by individuals and organisations.
He said the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) made submissions under protest just like the Oasis Forum did.

Mwenye said President Mwanawasa should not confuse people that submitted to the CRC but enforce the will of the people.

“We sympathise with the well-meaning men and women who sat on the CRC and did a good job under the circumstances but now they are betrayed by the appointing authority,” said Mwenye.

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