2 August 2012

Zambia: Bishops Want Death Penalty Retained

THE Council of Bishops of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAOG) has submitted to the Technical Committee on Drafting the Constitution that Article 28(3) on the death penalty should be retained in the final document because it is an important deterrent of capital offences.

The Church mother body was of the view that the death penalty for offenders would secure the lives of citizens.

At a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday, PAOG Chief Bishop, Harrison Sakala, on behalf of others, also called on Government to appoint a Referendum Commission through which the final Constitution should be adopted and further initiate a Bill to amend the current Referendum Act so that it responds to the democratic dispensation in Zambia.

The Church called on political parties to tone down on their mudslinging currently at play and ensure that they collectively guided citizens to contribute effectively to the production of a Constitution that would respond to current and future challenges. Bishop Sakala said as the next phase commenced, the Council was demanding continued transparency in the Constitution-making process that would be backed by a clear legal framework to guide the proceedings.

The Council added its voice to the many stakeholders that had continued to call for the enactment of a relevant piece of legislation which should guide and protect the Constitution-making process. Bishop Sakala said the danger of not having legal backing for the process was that any unsatisfied citizen could legally challenge the whole process in the courts of law which could lead to delays and undue wastage of public resources.

He commended the Committee drafting the Constitution for keeping an open-door policy. "We have observed that the Technical Committee on Drafting the Zambian Constitution has from time to time since their appointment emphasised that any legitimate process makes allowance from meaningful consultations with stakeholders," he said.

On the technical committee considering submissions from international experts, Bishop Sakala said the Church mother body believed that the local technical committee had enough experts to advise on the process. Bishop Sakala said the Council was grateful to the international partners' support towards Zambia's democratic processes but should in all fairness and sincerity let Zambians decide on the processes and contents of the Constitution.

"The concerns we raise in this respect are well founded especially in the wake of high-level public pronouncements made by prominent global leaders who have in the recent past been heard to require nations to accept gay rights as conditionalities for aid," he said.

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