Friday, April 20, 2012
By Roy Habaalu
Thu 19 Apr. 2012, 13:00 CAT
THE technical committee of experts drafting the new constitution says it will include contentious clauses such as the 50 per cent plus one vote in its draft document. The other contentious clauses include making elective the position of Republican vice-president. During the sitting of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) constituted by the MMD government, a lot of clauses were rejected.
Several stakeholders had submitted to previous constitution review commissions that the 50 per cent plus one threshold be enshrined in the constitution so that an elected president becomes a reflection of the majority citizens' vote.
Technical committee spokesperson Simon Kabanda said the new draft constitution to be published at the end of this month would include the Bill of Rights, the 50 per cent plus one vote and the position of vice-president being elective.
He said the committee was compiling submissions from the previous constitution review commissions without receiving new inputs from the public.
Once the position of vice-president is made elective, Zambia would not go for a by-election in an event that a sitting president dies as his vice would automatically take over and finish the remaining term of office.
Malawi's constitution is an example of one with an elected vice-president as demonstrated after the recent death of president Bingu Wa Mutharita and the subsequent ascendancy to power of his vice, Joyce Banda.
The draft constitution would also include social and economic rights which were first rejected by the NCC, but were later adopted after pressure.
"We haven't changed what people submitted; that's the position," Kabanda said.
He said they were compiling all the documents through which the people had spoken.
"We are using Chona, Mvunga, Mwanakatwe constitution review commissions, the Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC), the Mung'omba constitution review commission and the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) draft constitution. So we are drafting the new constitution without receiving any submissions from any member of the public," Kabanda said.
He said the first draft constitution would be subjected to public comments at district consultative forums which would be followed by provincial conventions at which all comments would be collected.
Kabanda said after the provincial conventions, there would be sector group constitution conventions that would be held in Lusaka.
"Sector groups include NGOs, the Church, trade unions, professional associations, government departments, and all various stakeholders. After that at national level, there will also be party consultative forum where political parties will meet to make comments as political parties together," he said.
Kabanda said this would be an opportunity for the public to verify if their submissions were included.
"…We shall produce the second draft constitution after we have collected comments from these conventions. The second draft will be validated at the national convention where people who participated in all these forums will be represented at national level for them to validate the comments that have been incorporated in the draft," said Kabanda.