7 April 2014

Zambia: Deliver Constitution, LAZ Tell Sata

The Law Association of Zambia says it is wrong for government to adopt a know-it-all attitude on the constitution making process.

Featuring on Muvi Television's The Assignment programme LAZ president James Banda said one of the indicators of a constitutional crisis in the country was the over two years acting period by acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda.

Banda said government had a duty to promote consensus in the constitution making process.

"The government has a role to play in achieving consensus. You simply cannot adopt a know-it-all attitude when it comes to the constitution," he said.

"If LAZ we say that we know it all and keep on issuing statements or taking matters to court or agitating for this and that then that is wrong. If any sector of society adopts a similar approach or government where each person stands in their respective corner and they do not want to meet forget it."

He said it had been difficult believing that the Patriotic Front government would deliver a people driven constitution given the numerous conflicting statements coming from government.

"I must say that it has been difficult to believe that the PF government has got political will to have a new constitution before 2016. Reading from what the government officials have been stating, that confidence has gone down so it is a difficult situation where we are in," he said.

The LAZ boss said the fact that acting Chief Justice Lombe Chibesakunda had acted for over two years was testimony of the inadequacy of the current constitution.

"There are difficulties with this constitution if I can give you an example of what we have already talked about. How can you have someone act as Chief Justice for two years? That is a constitutional crisis," he said.

"There is no Chief Justice in this country for two years. It is a constitutional crisis."

He said government should build consensus on the constitution making process.

"It is very important that everybody is brought on board, if the position of government is that there is no need for a constitution at all that has to be stated. What I am hearing is that there are difficulties with funding, with timelines but create a situation where these issues can be discussed with everyone," he said.

Banda said LAZ through the Oasis Forum had as far back as 2012 indicated that without a legal framework the process stood in jeopardy.

He said that the LAZ AGM of 2012 had unanimously resolved that without a legal framework the constitution making process stood to be futile.


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