ZAMBIA: Bishops Recommend a Halt in Constitutional Amendment

LUSAKA, JUNE 12, 2020 (CISA)-The Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) has criticized the ongoing constitutional amendment process through Bill 10 of 2019 calling for its withdrawal from parliament on grounds that it lacked consensus.

In a statement released on Tuesday, June 9 by Bishop George Lungu the president of ZCCB, bishops warned that the bill does not reflect on aspirations of majority of Zambians and that has become a source of division in the country.

“Having taken a comparative analysis of Bill 10 the Parliamentary Report on the same bill and the current amended constitution of 2016, we note that while Bill 10 may contain some progressive clauses, it also contains some retrogressive and highly contentious causes such as the provision for deputy ministers, proposed changes in the electoral system regarding mayors, council chairpersons, members of parliament and the President. The proposed revision of the composition of Cabinet,” the statement reads.

The bishops appealed to members of parliament respect the will of majority of Zambians and withdraw the bill from the floor of the house. The bill is on the floor of the house waiting to be presented for the Second Reading.

The Church however supports the desire and need by Zambians to address lacunas that were in the 2016 amended constitution in a process that is inclusive raising concerns on “the dwindling levels of vigilance among Zambians in general as they continue watching and saying nothing on the increasing incidents of human rights abuse, political violence, high levels of corruption, poor observance of rule of law and now the manipulation of masses over Bill 10.”

“We wish to express our solidarity with the many Zambians who are denied their right to exercise their freedoms of expression and assembly; including the youth whose cry has become louder in the recent days. We firmly believe that any legitimate process of making, reviewing and amending the supreme law of the land ought to be premised on a process that is widely inclusive, transparent, accountable and anchored on consensus building rather than partisan interest,” he said.

Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) has urged Parliamentarians to rise above partisan interests and reject Bill 10 in order to protect not just their individual and collective legacy, but also the aspirations of the people they represent.

Members of parliament resumed sitting on Tuesday, June 9 and Bill 10 is expected to be re-introduced to the House.