Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oasis to petition Parliament over adoption of constitution

Oasis to petition Parliament over adoption of constitution
By Bivan Saluseki and Chibaula Silwamba
Thursday July 19, 2007 [04:03]

POLICE has granted the Oasis Forum and Collaborative Group on the Constitution a go ahead to picket Parliament over the adoption of the new constitution. And UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said no political party in the ZCID will hoodwink his party in the constitution making process. Meanwhile, Patriotic Front (PF) spokesperson Given Lubinda yesterday called for reconstitution of the ZCID board.

Oasis Forum spokesperson Musa Mwenye yesterday said the picketing would start at 13:00 hours today. Mwenye urged political parties and individuals that support the Forum's stand over the constitution to turn up en masse at Parliament grounds.

He commended UPND for distancing itself from the ZCID roadmap. Mwenye said UPND had realised the danger in the ZCID roadmap.

"The party has woken up to the fact that ZCID roadmap is prone to manipulation," he said.

Mwenye said ZCID's roadmap could not represent the views of the people as contained in the Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission report, which even MMD as a party supported.

He said all political parties should adopt the Mung'omba CRC on the mode of adopting of the constitution as the only credible position.

"It's not too late for this extremely unnecessary acrimony over the constitution to be broken especially that the acrimony has been created by a few politicians' desire to hijack the process of constitution making that rightly belongs to the people," said Mwenye.

And Hichilema warned other ZCID members against having side meetings and issue press statements without the approval of all political party members.

Meanwhile, UNIP president Tilyenji Kaunda yesterday said political parties must not fail Zambians in their enthusiasm and search for a new Republican constitution.
Commenting on Zambia Center for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID) spokesperson Newton Ng'uni's statement that the recent presidents' summit agreed on a road map on the constitution making process, Hichilema yesterday said those that thought UPND could be hoodwinked were wrong and would not accept other members of the ZCID to be issuing statements that had not been approved.

"We are alert and awake, other groups in ZCID know that they can't use the UPND to push their agenda," Hichilema said. "Some people think that we are polite and can deceive us but we operate on the principle of being polite and firm. We reason through things."

He said ZCID should do the right things if it were to be relevant to the constitution making process. He said it would not help the ZCID for its spokesperson to be issuing statements that were 'incorrect' and not approved by the ZCID member political parties.

"How do you make statements that have not been approved by the whole group? That means you have other agendas. That statement is for the spokesperson and the people he is conniving with and not all political parties," Hichilema said. "We know that some people from the MMD will go to ZCID to preserve their positions but we are not there for that, we are there for the people of Zambia."

Hichilema said political parties and the civil society should work together with all Zambians in the process. And Tilyenji said the constitutional conference was an opportunity to make things right in Zambia.

"We as political parties must work hard to win the trust and confidence of all key stakeholder interests that we mean well and shall deliver a constitutional process whose outcome shall be acceptable to all Zambians," said Tilyenji at a press briefing at ZCID offices in Lusaka.

He said political party leader must be able to identify matters of national importance on which consensus among them was possible. Tilyenji said it was good for the public to know that on some particular issue of national importance all political parties were of one mind.

Tilyenji also said political party leaders had a responsibility to build bridges across party lines and to treat one another with courtesy and decorum. And Lubinda said ZCID board chairman Katele Kalumba should immediately convene a board meeting to resolve the impasse between the board and PF.

"If ZCID must succeed, then we have to reconstitute the whole board. The levels of mistrust are so deep that we cannot possibly sit and chat the way forward in any meeting under ZCID," he said.

Lubinda said PF would not participate on any ZCID activities for as long as issues of neutrality remained unresolved.

"We demand to be treated with respect and not to be ridiculed by a member of the ZCID board," he said in relation to a statement issued by Newton Nguni yesterday.

Lubinda said PF and UPND had 65 members of parliament in total and could not be controlled by small parties with only a total of eight members of parliament.
"When we were forming ZCID it was not our intention to create a monster which is ballooning day by day to a point where a few members of the board develop this notion that they are supervisors and spokespersons of political parties," he said.
Lubinda said the presidents' summit did not refer to the ZCID roadmap.

He said PF reserved its right to take whatever action it deemed appropriate, which included a total and irreversible pull out from ZCID.

And PF secretary general Edward Mumbi said there was unfaithfulness in ZCID hence PF's pull out. He said the PF had been vindicated as other parties like UPND were now distancing themselves from the ZCID roadmap. Nguni said Zambians must take note of the conduct of PF after agreeing to the roadmap both at board and summit of president's level.

"This shows that there is no guarantee that all stakeholders will support the referendum question," said Nguni.

"The oasis Forum would like guarantees that the new constitution would be subjected to a national referendum. If this is their only demand, then all differences should be resolved because that could be done without affecting the tow-stage enactment process outlined in the ZCID roadmap."

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