Friday, July 06, 2007
By Bivan Saluseki
Friday July 06, 2007 [04:00]
THE Oasis Forum yesterday requested the Zambia Centre for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) for more time before they could meet over the latter's proposed roadmap on the constitution review process. But FDD president Edith Nawakwi begged the Oasis Forum to engage the government properly because President Mwanawasa who had earlier shown unwillingness to have a Constitution soon has since changed.
On Wednesday, ZCID spokesperson Newton Ng’uni said ZCID had invited to the Oasis Forum for a meeting today.
But Oasis Forum spokesperson Musa Mwenya yesterday said no meeting would take place because the consultative group needed to meet first in order to come up with an agenda. He said the caucus would take place tomorrow and the Oasis had asked the ZCID to reschedule the meeting probably to Monday next week.
And ZCID executive director Chomba Chellah said the Oasis had informed him about their request to have the consultative group meet first before the ZCID meeting.
Chellah said the meeting might take place on Monday or Tuesday next week.
Ng’uni said the constitution conference would adopt the new constitution.
He said ZCID would not sideline any interest groups including the Oasis Forum and each interest group would choose and send their own delegates to the conference.
Meanwhile, Nawakwi has begged the Oasis Forum to engage the government properly and because President Mwanawasa has shown unwillingness to have a new constitution soon.
"We have achieved something. Let us give it a moral character," she said.
Nawakwi said the government and political parties through the Oasis Forum could not agree on several issues and much time had been lost. She said people should remember that President Mwanawasa who had been talking of having a new constitution by 2015 had been convinced and was now agreeable to having a new constitution by 2008.
"The government has finally agreed that they won't go beyond 2008," she said. "That is a major milestone. If there is a ray of hope, it's that ray of hope which must be exploited."
She said President Mwanawasa and politicians should be given a chance because they had shown that they were ready to dialogue.
Nawakwi said people should not make Katele Kalumba, Michael Sata, herself and any other politician a subject of unnecessary debates.
She was supportive of efforts made by ZCID because she said politicians, just like golfers, were free to have their own clubs.
Nawakwi said if having a constitution conference instead of a constituent assembly was the main issue, then all stakeholders should go back and discuss.
Nawakwi said as for herself, she was tired because in 1991 she had the multiparty battle, in 2001; she slept in the bush over the third term and the same in 2006.
"Everybody is tired. Let's get together. We want a constitution, yes, what's the restructure? What's wrong with politicians having a club?" she asked.
Nawakwi said politicians who had earlier been seen as being divided had at least come up with an agreement and the Forum could help debate the composition and other issues.
Nawakwi said PF president Michael Sata did not pull out over disagreements on the roadmap but because he wanted to make a vote of thanks during President Mwanawasa's launch of the ZCID.
"He threatened all of us. We were all waiting for him. The PF official present was literally on edge, pleading if we could allow him (Sata). That's when we all said this (no) in front of officials from ZCID," she said.
"We all refused including Kapita (UNPD vice president)."
Nawakwi said Sata's withdrawal from ZCID had nothing to do with ideologies.
"We can't be leading a country like that. It’s wrong. PF has not pulled out because it does not agree with the timetable. It has pulled out because he (Sata) demanded an opportunity, which was not given. This is the same president who went to the earlier meeting and he was there, he was happy," she said.
Nawakwi said ZCID was acting as an office for politicians because in the past those that had gone to meet President Mwanawasa at State House had been labelled as job seekers.
She said ZCID was acting as a neutral ground.
And Operation Young Vote president Guess Nyirenda has demanded that youths be represented during the constitution-making process instead of merely those coming from political parties.
He said without proper and acceptable representation of young people on the constitution conference, the whole exercise would be meaningless and a waste of time and national resources.
Nyirenda said it was unacceptable to exclude young people from participating in coming up with the new constitution.