Monday, December 17, 2012

Kabimba's threats on constitution forums have no basis - YALI

Kabimba's threats on constitution forums have no basis - YALI
By Namatama Mundia
Mon 17 Dec. 2012, 08:30 CAT

YALI says threats by Wynter Kabimba of stern action if they continued holding forums with young leaders on the constitution have no basis in law.

Justice minister Kabimba, in a letter dated December 12, 2012 addressed to Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) governance advisor, expressed misgivings on the organisation's position to hold discussions on Zambia's constitution reform process.

Kabimba told YALI that its provincial dialogue forum over the constitution-making process held in Kasama recently was not held under the auspices of the Technical Committee on the Draft Constitution.
He said the organisation's meeting was therefore held in defiance of government decision to ban parallel forums on the constitution-making process.

Kabimba asked Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani to "take stern action in future against anybody from your (YALI) organisation who shall organise or conduct such forum outside the supervision of the Technical Committee".

But YALI president Andrew Ntewewe stated that his organisation had not committed any offence when it decided to hold forums on the Constitution with young leaders.

"We stand ready to defend the rights of fellow citizens and our own rights to engage in the process without any interference from politicians," he said.
Ntewewe stated that the technical committee and the constitution-making process which would require over K110 billion was funded by taxpayers' money and resources gifted by the international community.

"It goes therefore that taxpayers have a constitutional right to engage in this process. There would be no reason at all for this process to continue receiving any support if government has positioned itself to control how people engage in this process by use of the technical committee," Ntewewe stated.

"YALI will therefore be left without any option but lobby members of Parliament and the international community to rethink funding to this fraudulent process whose outcome seems to be already predetermined. Your appointment to that office, we now believe is serving to frustrate the constitutional-reform process as your immediate predecessor (Sebastian Zulu) exhibited political willingness for this process to be people-driven," he said.

Ntewewe added that undeterred by Kabimba's threats, the organisation would continue to hold its activities which are legal and they were prepared to use all available legal means to defend the right of young people to participate in the process.

"Should your directive pose any further threat for young citizens to have a say in the process, we are ready to seek an injunction to restrain the technical committee from holding its activities in exclusion of our voices as citizens to contribute towards a people-driven Constitution," Ntewewe stated. "We may further seek a review of your decision in our courts of law which we feel is arbitrary and made without consultations with stakeholders."

He further stated that there was need for Kabimba to make a clear distinction in the manner in which he wants to run party affairs from his public responsibilities as justice minister.

"It is, however, in our country's best interest that you restrain yourself, put Zambia first and be impartial in discharging your duties and serve all our people. It will not help any Zambian to have a popularly, legitimately and democratically-elected government practice dictatorial tendencies and unleash our men and women in uniform on citizens who exercise their democratic right," said Ntewewe.


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