YOU cannot be asking President Edgar Lungu to withdraw a people’s document; he has no powers to do that, PF deputy media director Antonio Mwanza has told Chapter One Foundation executive director Linda Kasonde.
Kasonde was quoted in The Mast on Thursday, urging President Edgar Lungu to listen and consider the concerns of Zambians on the constitution-making process.
“We ask that he be selfless, once more, and not go ahead with the refinement in the manner it is proposed,” Kasonde, in her presidential parliamentary speech reaction, stated.
On the fight against corruption, Kasonde, a former Law Association of Zambia president, stated that the President Lungu’s stance on corruption was welcome but that, “strong words alone have not helped [to] curb corruption as shown in the Financial Intelligence Centre trends report.”
“According to that report, corruption has increased…” stated Kasonde.
Reacting to Kasonde’s remarks, Mwanza pointed out that Kasonde being a lawyer understood that a constitution making was a people’s process.
“I read somewhere where madam Linda Kasonde is asking the President to literally withdraw the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No.10 and she is also talking about corruption that words alone from the President cannot fight corruption,” Mwanza said in an interview on Thursday.
He indicated that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 was a people’s document and not for the President, lawyers or other elites.
He explained that a people’s document was arrived at by having a process driven by basic constitution-making principles.
Mwanza said such principles included a legal framework to protect the content of the draft constitution, consensus and majority rule in arriving at decisions, inclusiveness and transparency.
“Those are the three principles that the National Dialogue Forum was based on. Linda Kasonde had the right to attend the National Dialogue Forum and make contributions, just like any other citizen,” Mwanza said.
“The other principle of constitution making is transparency and accountability and it was there at the NDF. All the proceedings of the National Dialogue Forum were on radio, TV, in the newspapers.”
Mwanza said all the decisions at the NDF were arrived at on the basis of consensus.
“When there was no consensus, the people voted and the majority always won,” he said.
“So you cannot fault the National Dialogue Forum and you cannot ask the President today to withdraw the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10.”
Mwanza asked how President Lungu could withdraw, before Parliament, something that was not his – the Constitution (Amendment) Bill.
“This is not a document for President Edgar Lungu; it is the people’s document. That’s why it has now gone to Parliament. So, you cannot ask the President to withdraw a document which is not his and madam Kasonde knows that,” he argued.
“If madam Kasonde really cared about the constitution-making process, she should have gone to participate in the National Dialogue Forum.”
He added that if Kasonde really cared about the constitution-making process, she could go to Parliament and make submissions to the parliamentary select committee.
“So we would like to challenge madam Kasonde, if she cares about the Constitution (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019, to go to Parliament and raise her concerns as an individual or raise her concerns as Chapter One Foundation, as she calls herself,” Mwanza said.
“You cannot be asking the President to withdraw a people’s document; he has no powers to do that.”
On the fight against corruption, Mwanza indicated that he was happy that Kasonde had “agreed that the President has resoundingly condemned corruption.”
“But she has accused the President that just words are not enough. I want to tell madam Linda Kasonde that the President is fighting corruption not only with words but with action,” argued Mwanza.
“Madam Linda Kasonde, as a lawyer, understands that in order to fight corruption, you must strengthen the legal framework to detect corruption and to make corruption punishable. That’s exactly what this President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has done.”