Monday, October 07, 2013

No need for ultimatums over the constitution - Shamenda
By Abel Mboozi
Fri 13 Sep. 2013, 14:01 CAT

THERE is no need for anybody to give the government ultimatums on the constitution-making process which is on course, says Fackson Shamenda.

Shamenda, who is acting chief government spokesperson, said in Lusaka that the issue of the constitution was important, thus stakeholders should learn to engage the government over the same.

"Giving the government ultimatums and running through the back door over this important national issue is unreasonable," Shamenda said in reaction to demands by a coalition of civil society organisations claiming that the exercise has been prolonged unnecessarily.

Shamenda said the previous government made various attempts to review the constitution but nothing tangible came out.

"We have only been in power for two years but we have reached an advanced stage over the constitution review process. People should therefore not derail us with ultimatums," he said.

Shamenda said the government wanted to mould a better constitution that would stand a test of time and it was doing so in a transparent manner.

He said there was no need for anybody to panic over the constitution-making process because the PF government was determined to accord Zambians a better constitution.

On Tuesday, Beatrice Grillo, who spoke on behalf of the civil society coalition, said it was unacceptable that for 17 years, Zambia had continued to battle with the issue of the constitution review process.

"As civil society, we are dismayed by the prolonged delay in finalising the constitution review process. We still believe this work would have been finalised by now had government premised this important task on a clear and well thought out roadmap," she said.

Grillo said the civil society expected the government to priotise the drafting process and deliver to the public a second draft constitution by September 30, 2013.

She said the coalition had resolved not to allow fragmentation of civil society voice to make it easier for those in power to divide, rule, manipulate and weaken them.

"We vow to remain united for the sake of all Zambians because the constitution is food on the table for every citizen. A people-driven constitution delivers economic and social liberty for all. It's a liberation and good governance tool," she said.

Grillo said the government must come out in the open on the issue of the referendum.

"As civil society, we still stand by our position that the referendum will be the best mode of adopting this important national document," said Grillo.

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