Wednesday, July 18, 2007

UPND disassociates itself from ZCID's roadmap

UPND disassociates itself from ZCID's roadmap
By Masuzyo Chakwe and Bivan Saluseki
Wednesday July 18, 2007 [04:00]

THE United Party for National Development (UPND) has disassociated itself from the Zambia Centre for Inter-party Dialogue (ZCID)’s roadmap. And the Oasis Forum says it would petition SADC heads of state during the summit over Zambia’s constitution impasse. UPND chairman for information and publicity Charles Kakoma said yesterday that the publication in the media was without their knowledge and approval.

He said the ZCID committed the UPND to a programme and roadmap without consulting it and therefore the said roadmap had no blessings from the party.

Kakoma said the party’s official position on the constitution was that it would support the adoption of the constitution through a constitution conference (CC) based on the understandings that the CC was the same as the constituent assembly (CA).

“We therefore do not agree with the ZCID’s position that the CC is different from the CA. There is no roadmap which was discussed and agreed upon at the Summit of political party presidents. The only agreement was to present a CC bill to Parliament. The issues of the roadmap and contents of the draft constitution were supposed to be referred to various political parties for further scrutiny before they could be presented to the second Summit of presidents,” he said.

He said UPND was opposed to the piecemeal amendment of the constitution as suggested in the ZCID roadmap.

Kakoma said their position was that the contents of the new constitution should be agreed upon and adopted by the CC, then subjected to a national referendum before presentation to Parliament for enactment in total.

“We are opposed to the piecemeal amendment of the constitution because that is what has been done to the constitution reviews since independence, resulting in the current bad Constitution that is not acceptable to the majority of Zambians in a multiparty democratic dispensation like ours,” he said.

He said the constitutional conference bill should be published and distributed to all stakeholders including the ZCID, political parties, the Oasis Forum before presenting it to Parliament.

“The contents of the bill should be agreed upon before presentation to Parliament. We do not agree with the ZCID’s programme of sensitising people countrywide before the contents of the CC bill are known and agreed upon. What we are going to sensitise the people about?” he asked.

Kakoma said there were no stakeholders who should be excluded from the constitution-making process as suggested by some political parties.
He said the party’s position was that all stakeholders including the Oasis Forum should be part of the constitution-making process.

“We wish to reaffirm our commitment to an inclusive constitution-making process that is acceptable to all stakeholders. We remain committed members of the ZCID. We however wish to strongly advise the ZCID that all major decisions should be discussed and agreed upon by member parties before implementation or publication. We wish to assure the public that despite what has transpired, the UPND will continue to participate in the ZCID activities,” said Kakoma.

And Oasis forum convener Rev Suzan Matale yesterday said the ZCID process was open to political manipulation.

“It is not surprising that some of the arguments advanced by ZCID for parliamentary supremacy, are the same arguments made by the Chiluba administration in rejecting the recommendations of the Mwanakatwe CRC. Some of the people involved in ZCID were in the Chiluba administration,” she said.

Revr Matale said the Forum would picket Parliament, march the streets, hold public discussions and petition even the SADC heads of state if need be.
“Our message to SADC is, do not wait until the constitutional impasse in Zambia becomes a major conflict before you start convening heads of state meetings and appointing special missions to Zambia,” she said.

Rev Matale said the Forum did not seek to earn a living from the process, but make a meaningful contribution to the country by having a constitution that represented people’s collective aspirations.

She said the government was working on the constitution conference bill without the broad involvement of stakeholders.

“We are fully aware that once a bill is tabled in Parliament, only government can withdraw and we do not want this complication and therefore demand that government should not introduce the bill before all stakeholders and interested Zambians have had a chance to scrutinise it and make comments,” said Rev. Matale.

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