Thursday, March 20, 2014

PF will never betray Zambians - Kabimba

By Henry Sinyangwe
Tue 03 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

Justice minister Wynter Kabimba says the PF will never betray Zambians that voted the party into power. He was reacting to Alliance for Better Zambia (ABZ) president Frank Bwalya who said President Michael Sata and the PF have betrayed Zambians over the need for a new people-driven constitution.

Bwalya stated yesterday that the sudden U-turn by PF on the need for a new constitution had consolidated the common belief that the ruling party can't be trusted.

"It has become common for PF leaders, including President Sata, to shamelessly say or do something contrary to what they championed prior to the 2011 tripartite elections. As such, Mr Sata's statement that Zambia doesn't need a new constitution but amendments to the current defective constitution and that there will be no referendum, is but another manifestation of PF dishonesty," Bwalya said.

He said that what President Sata stated in Mansa on Saturday was contrary to his earlier pronouncements.

"Moreover, it is contrary to the PF Manifesto which states, and I quote; 'Under the MMD government the opportunity to have a new constitution that reflects the will and aspirations of the people, and which could stand the test of time has once again eluded the Zambian people. The colossal expenditure of more than K135 billion incurred under the National Constitutional Conference has been a sheer waste of scarce resources that could have been applied to meaningful national development. This failed process has been nothing but a betrayal of the Zambian people. Additionally the rule of law, social justice and the justice delivery system have been compromised. In order to redress the above, the PF government shall: Establish in consultation with stakeholders a Committee of Experts to review the recommendations of all previous Constitutional Review Commissions in order to draft and present a constitution which will reflect the will and aspirations of the people for submission to a referendum and subsequent enactment only, by the National Assembly." (22 LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS. PF Manifesto 2011 - 2016. Governance and the Administration of the State page 42)," said Bwalya.

He stated that the PF Manifesto clearly states PF's regret that MMD failed to deliver a new people-driven constitution.

"Moreover, the citation makes it clear that PF believes in subjecting the new constitution to a referendum and then presenting the new constitution to the National Assembly only for enactment. Against this background, our party Alliance for Better Zambia believes that PF is a dishonest party and that it will not deliver a constitution that will reflect the aspirations of our people. It is therefore regrettable that another golden opportunity to have a good constitution has been lost. It is even more regrettable that again a lot of money has been spent on a process to come up with a new constitution only to be informed that a new constitution was not necessary," Bwalya stated.

He stated that the PF should admit that they too have betrayed Zambians and that they don't deserve to be trusted.

"We find the statement by Mr Sata that Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) calling for a new people driven constitution don't represent anyone but themselves totally unacceptable. The credible NGOs including churches calling for a durable people driven constitution in Zambia have been consistent for many years. As a matter of fact, when Mr Sata was in the opposition, his party shared the same position of NGOs. It is therefore immoral that President Sata should today rubbish their calls saying they only represent themselves," Bwalya stated.

He stated that ABZ's position was that the treachery of PF may make Zambians lose faith in the political dispensation which had the potential to create instability in the political system of the country.
But Kabimba, in response to Bwalya, said the constitution-making process was still in the process and that the technical committee had not yet handed over the final report to the government.

"So you can't make an allegation at this stage the PF has betrayed the Zambians when the PF government has nothing in its own hands in form of the final report of the constitutional bill. It is not fair to politicize things out of context. I have written to the technical committee that they must hand over the report on or before December 31. When we have that document in our hands as government and we have taken whatever decision that the government takes, which decisions I am sure will be in the interest of the Zambian people, then one can make a comment," Kabimba said.

He said there was need to make statements that unite the nation.
"We were voted by the Zambian people. There is no way we can betray the people of Zambia that put this government into office, and we can't. So to make statements prematurely does not show that you are making comments in good faith. Let's try and make statements that unite the country," said Kabimba.

Speaking in Mansa on Saturday, President Sata said defects in the new constitution could be corrected by way of amendments.

"If there are defectives, we don't need a new constitution, we can amend this constitution. If you have a chapter that you want, you can insert in the bills of what you want. We appointed a committee to look at the constitution and when they bring that document, we are not in a hurry. If there was a vacuum, we would have been in a hurry," President Sata said.

"How do you bring in a referendum? We have only had one referendum during Mwanakatwe, how do you come and want to bring in a referendum in between? Secondly, the procedure is that me, I'm hands-off. When the committee (technical committee) finishes, they will deal with the justice minister, who will take it to Cabinet. But what I am saying is if there are defects, we can call for amendments."

President Sata also castigated civil society organisations that were criticising the government over the constitution-making process, saying that they represented themselves and not the views of people.

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