Thursday, May 29, 2014

Constitution process hijacked - Sata

By Joseph Mwenda and Kombe Mataka
Thu 09 Jan. 2014, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata says the constitution-making process has been hijacked by individuals with an objective to embarrass, humiliate and politically undermine the sovereign will of the people.

But three church mother bodies yesterday said they had resolved to take the issue of the constitution to their churches by devoting a few minutes to discuss it every Sunday.

In a statement released by his special assistant for press and public relations George Chellah, President Sata said it would be highly reckless and irresponsible to hastily release the constitution merely to satisfy an ill-intended political scheme.

"The country already has a functional Constitution and the state will not be pushed into fast and reckless conclusions by individuals with dubious agendas," he said.

President Sata said the government remained dedicated to the constitution-making process.

"The recent biased political maneuvers surrounding the process confirm the ill-intentions of the persons at the helm of this misplaced crusade. Right from the start, this government has been dedicated to the process, no wonder the committee handling the matter was left without any interference. But it's clear that the well-intended process has been hijacked to embarrass, humiliate and politically undermine the will and interest of the majority of Zambians," he said.

And the Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) and the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), which are part of the Oasis Forum, yesterday took part in the briefing, where CCZ secretary general Suzanne Matale, who is also chairperson of the Forum, advised the nation that the church mother bodies would direct all their churches and parishes to dedicate some minutes every Sunday to discuss the constitution and ensure that they have one soon.

"We would like to remind government that the writing is on the wall: this is a year of cleansing. Mediocrity shall not be accepted. People's demands for a people-driven constitution shall be achieved," she said.

And when asked to comment on how she felt personally about the constitution-making process since she was part of Technical Committee drafting the Constitution, Rev Matale said the committee had its own spokesperson and that she was speaking in her capacity as a CCZ official.

Law Association of Zambia president James Banda said it was unfortunate that the government had failed to listen to the public by going ahead to receive ten copies of the constitution document from the technical committee, adding that the process was not being made transparent and risked being rendered illegitimate.

EFZ executive director Pukuta Mwanza said this year was the only suitable time for Zambia to have a new constitution as a 'jubilee gift', before the general election mood grips the country.
And ZEC secretary general Fr Cleophas Lungu said time had come for Zambians to unite and demand a new constitution.

"Of course, there are bigger and small churches. We all know that there are true and false prophets but by our message and language, we shall know who is standing on the truth. The Constitution is a moral issue. We are going to take this Constitution to the pulpit. It shall be taken in the houses of God," said Rev Mwanza.

And NGOCC board chairperson Beatrice Grillo called on the women to join in calls to have the draft constitution released to the public.
Meanwhile, President Sata said more than 355,000 jobs have been created since the Patriotic Front formed government in September 2011.

"Government is still committed to job creation and industrialisation in order to create a better Zambia for all. To date, more than 355,335 jobs have been created since the PF came into power," he said in a statement released by Chellah.

President Sata said the government would soon establish a sovereign wealth fund, which would focus on stimulating investment in strategic non-mining industries.

He said this would be possible through the creation of the industrial development corporation (IDC), which would be a tool for the modernization and diversification of the economy.

"The State will through the IDC maximize the value of government assets by establishing a sovereign wealth fund to stimulate investment in strategic non-mining industries, among others, thereby expanding the country's investment portfolio and thus creating jobs, wealth and prosperity for the Zambian people," President Sata said.

He said the establishment of the IDC would also boost the contribution of state-owned enterprises to national development by placing them under one umbrella holding entity to deepen their reform, enhance efficiency and maximise returns.

President Sata said the IDC would be the government's strategy to enhance domestic capital formation, wealth creation and preservation by focusing on exploiting the country's advantages in natural resources and actively developing industries and enterprises to create jobs for the people.

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