Withdraw constitution amendment bill, it’s retrogressive- CCZ

The Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) has called for complete withdrawal of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 as it is retrogressive.

CCZ general secretary Fr Emmanuel Chikoya noted that it was ironic that ruling Patriotic Front had equally not supported some of the recommendations of the Bill such as reintroduction of deputy ministers and provision for the creation of a coalition government.

“To begin with, we, the Council of Churches in Zambia, wish to recognize and acknowledge the change in position by the ruling Patriotic Front Party on some unprogressive resolutions made by the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) and we note the following: (a) The proposal to amend the system on voting of the President to include the possibility of forming of a coalition government is not supported. In that regard Articles 101 and 102 are to remain as they appear in the current Constitution. The President should draw his/her mandate directly from the majority of the people. b) The proposal to amend Articles 112 and include a new Article 117A so as to create the office of Deputy Minister is not supported,” Fr Chikoya stated.

“The Council of Churches in Zambia being a Church Organisation is pleased to note that the ruling party has finally realised that some proposals to the Constitution do not mean well for the development of Zambia hence the convention of hearts. We, however, still call upon the ruling party and those that are in support of the Constitution Amendment Bill to extend their conversion of hearts to the realization that the whole Constitution Amendment Bill is not progressive and thus must be withdrawn altogether. The Bill has too many unfair, ambiguous and undefined pieces thereby not serving the interests of majority Zambians. We further extend our call to all Members of Parliament not to support the Constitution Amendment Bill 2019 and instead choose to stand on the side of majority Zambians.”

On the Electoral Process Amendment Bill 2019, the CCZ felt the proposal to reduce the campaign period from 90 days to 60 days was unjustifiable considering the vastness of Zambia.

“The proposed amendment to Section 2 (a) of the Electoral Process Act No. 35 of 2016 that the campaign period be reduced from three to two months does not improve the electoral environment pertaining in Zambia in any way. This is because this blanket provision relates to all elections without distinction and without considering the magnitude and importance of the election. It cannot be over emphasised, given how vast Zambia is, the extent of our rural population and the limitation of resources of most political players outside of the ruling party, that this provision will inevitably deprive the electorate of the benefit of engaging and interacting with all aspiring candidates,” Fr Chikoya stated.

“This is more unjustifiable when related to presidential elections where there is a single Constituency because aspirants with limited resources need as much time as possible to canvas their constituencies to compensate for their limitations. The proposed amendment limits that time thus disadvantaging such aspirants and ultimately the electorate.”

On the Public Order Bill 2019, he noted that a bulk of problems had arise over the years.

“There has been an apparent impression that those applying the law, the Police Service, have under that law an inherent power to either permit or deny an assembly from taking place. In-as-much-as the law requires that notification be given to the Police by those seeking to hold a public gathering, the Police Service have been seen to take the requirement for notification and response thereto as power for them to either permit or deny the going ahead of a public gathering,” Fr Chikoya stated.

On the Katuba Parliamentary by-election scheduled for July 30, 2019, the CCZ called on all political parties participating in the polls to ensure a peaceful campaigns and ultimately election.

“We believe that a battle for ideas is the most ideal form of winning votes from the electorate other than the use of violence and intimidation. Winning an election is not about using hate speech or offensive language but rather it is a contest of ideas, fight for winning majority votes of the hearts and minds of the electorate, the selling of practicable policies and programs for improving the lives of the electorate. A free, fair and peaceful election is not hinged on just one political party alone working to ensure peace but on all political parties participating in an election,” stated Fr Chikoya.

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