NDF failed to foster reconciliation – CCSOs

By Staff Reporter

A Consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CCSOs) have charged that the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) failed to achieve its primary objective of fostering reconciliation in the country.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium at a joint press briefing yesterday, Action Aid Zambia Country Director Naluca Ziba said the initial national dialogue process was proposed as a platform to bring together political actors and other stakeholders to deal with the tension that had arisen and continues to polarise the country on the basis of political, tribal, regional, religious and sector affiliation.

Ziba noted that the dialogue process was turned into a legislative process, principally to amend the constitution as well as to amend the Public Order Act, Electoral Process Act and to review the Political Party Bill.
“The national Constitution, being the supreme law of the land, must be respected and its sanctity preserved. Therefore, the changing of the constitution cannot be simplified to the NDF process we had recently, which lacked national consensus and inclusiveness,” she said.

She said the CCSOs were concerned that the NDF did not offer a credible platform that could be entrusted with the responsibility to deal with the constitutional matters.

“The forum lacked transparency as citizens were not provided with an opportunity to participate and contribute to whatever was going on in the Forum. The law also criminalised sharing the “public information” and so all delegates traded carefully,”she said.

She stated that the PF political architecture is a danger to peace and stability of the nation.

“Citizens manipulation through a politically driven outfit, the NDF is an unfortunate undertaking that attempts to reduce the sanctity of the Constitution making process even to any ‘legislated Canteen’ in Chibolwa (in Lusaka) or Twapya (in Ndola) compounds,” she said.

Ziba indicated the NDF totally deviated even from the commitments and assurances by both the Justice minister Given Lubinda and President Edgar Chagwa Lungu.

“The Republican President in his speech on the opening of the NDF said:
“I wish to state from the outset that this forum is a quality assurance validation forum and, therefore, we do not expect new submissions.
Rather, we are expected to provide inputs or clarifications on earlier submissions which were made. This is in order to refine our constitution and governance-related legislation such as the public order act, electoral process act and the political parties bill”.

Ziba however, noted that the NDF, rather than refining the Constitution, instead proposed substantial changes which in turn would trigger various substantive changes to the Constitution, thereby changing constitutional order in Zambia.