Civil society backs Govt
CIVIL society coalitions representing over 260 civil society organisations have backed Government rejection of a request by the technical committee on drafting the constitution to extend the deadline for the handover of the final draft constitution.
The committee, headed by former Chief Justice Annel Silungwe, recently applied for a six-month extension from June but Justice Minister Wynter Kabimba on Tuesday described the request as unreasonable and outrageous. Mr Kabimba demanded the draft team sticks to its June 30, 2013 deadline. Some of the organisations include the Media Institute of Southern Africa, Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council, Oasis Forum, Operation Young Vote, Panos Institute Southern Africa, Women and Law in Southern Africa and Young African Leaders Initiative.
Others are the Zambia Community Media Forum, Zambia Council for Social Development and Zambian Voice, Transparency International Zambia (TIZ), Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) and the Southern Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD).
Representatives of the civil society organisations said in separate interviews that the refusal by Government to extend the handover of the final draft constitution will save colossal sums of taxpayers’ money.
According to Mr Kabimba, the extension would have cost tax payers KR44 million (K44 billion) in addition to the KR100 million (K100 billion) which has already been spent on the task.
SACCORD executive director Boniface Cheembe said his organisation is against prolonging the handover of the final draft constitution.
“Further delays will erode the confidence the people have in the constitution-making process.
This process is supposed to be concluded quickly so that it still retains the credibility that it deserves,” he said.
Mr Cheembe said various stakeholders have been waiting patiently for the constitution-making process to be concluded and any delay will send out a wrong signal.
He said the technical committee had said they would conclude the process by the end of this month and should maintain their earlier time frame.
Mr Cheembe said the money that would have been spent on the extension can be channelled to other developmental projects.
He said the government decision to turn down the request to extend the duration of the constitution-making process shows that Government is committed to concluding the exercise in good time.
FODEP executive director McDonald Chipenzi said the country has no resources to waste on a prolonged constitution-making process.
Mr Chipenzi said FODEP supports what Government has done to save costs.
And TIZ president Lee Habasonda said there may be need for Government and the technical committee to dialogue further so that money is saved and a proper constitution is produced.
Mr Habasonda said it could be helpful for the two parties to re-engage and thrash out a proper road map for the constitution-making process.
By ALVIN CHIINGA