Wednesday, August 11, 2010

NCC chairperson accuses The Post of biased coverage of NCC

NCC chairperson accuses The Post of biased coverage of NCC
By Kombe Chimpinde
Wed 11 Aug. 2010, 14:00 CAT

National Constitution Conference (NCC) Chairman Chifumu Banda has accused The Post of being biased toward the Catholic Church and Council of Churches of Zambia (CCZ) in its coverage of NCC review process.

But Post news editor Chansa Kabwela advised Banda to direct his energies towards people’s concerns about the manner in which the NCC handled the constitution making process.

Banda charged that The Post had hidden motives when it published a story in which the Catholic Bishop openly rejected the draft constitution, saying the newspaper deliberately chose to ignore some pro-draft constitution like the one from JCTR.

“Am surprised that The Post reported on CCZ which has rejected the draft constitution and did not do the same on submissions that had commended it,” Banda said.

“You see, the Jesuit Center of Theological Reflection is a Catholic wing that is even more learned due to the concrete researches they do than the bishops, so if I were a journalist I would think the recommendations of JCTR carries more weight.”

Banda said some of the people who made recommendations on the draft constitution hardly understood it.

“I can tell you some of the people who were commenting on the draft constitution have not even read it. I can ask you right now to go and ask CCZ if they read the draft before submitting... ,” he said.

“In any law making process you expect mixed reactions, we however must make it our duty to make meaningful suggestions and proposals.”

Banda, however, thanked citizens who made contributions on the draft constitution despite complaints of the 40-day period allowed for public scrutiny and feedback on the document being short.

“We thank Zambians who made their submissions because that is the way responsible Zambians should react,” Banda said.

He further added that the constitution was a very important document of the land and should not trivialised or politicised.

Banda said a total of 415 submissions towards the draft constitution had been received within the 40 day period set aside for recommendations.

But Kabwela said it was disappointing that Banda could accuse The Post of bias in its coverage of submissions on the NCC draft constitution.
She said the misleading statements needed to be dismissed with the contempt they deserved.

Kabwela said it was unfortunate that a man of Banda’s caliber could think that some Zambians did not even understand the constitution.
“If Mr Banda thinks that Zambians cannot understand the constitution or they made submissions without reading the draft, why has he been asking them to make submissions?

This is the same arrogance and pomposity that we have been condemning as a newspaper about this process, which is supposed to be people-driven,” Kabwela said. “Mr Banda should understand that all Zambians have a say in the constitution making process because it is national document.

Instead of focusing on such trivialities, Mr Banda would do well to reflect on the concerns that people have raised on key clauses that the NCC excluded, clauses that they laughed at, straightforward clauses that they have referred to the referendum, clauses that people wanted to see in their constitution.”

Kabwela said The Post’s duty was to inform the public and contribute to the growth of the country’s democracy.

“May I remind Mr Banda that we have endeavoured to do just that over the last 19 years,” said Kabwela.

And Citizens Forum executive secretary Simon Kabanda has demanded that the submissions and recommendations made to the draft constitution be published so that there can be transparency in the process.

Meanwhile, Southern Africa Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) spokesperson Obby Chibuluma has said the NCC must during this sitting be more honest in handling the issues and aspirations of Zambians.

“The next NCC is vital and as SACCORD we want the next session to be holistic in the studies. NCC must make the wishes and aspirations of the people they serve a priority, unlike what we noted in the past where the delegates have ignored the important desires of the people,” said Chibuluma.

“We already know what people want, and that the 50 plus one, the rights to safe and clean water, a Presidential running mate among other desires and so we expect the NCC to seriously look at these submissions.”

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