Kabimba advises govt to seek consensus mechanism over constitution amendment

WYNTER Kabimba says if the government wants to effect any amendments to the current Constitution, amendment Act No. two of 2016, it must find a mechanism for national consensus. Kabimba, who is Rainbow Party general secretary, explained that consensus building, in the Rainbow Party’s view, could only be through the national dialogue process.

He stressed that his argument on the Constitution-making process had not changed from the one he had when he served as justice minister under Michael Sata’s government.

“It goes back to my argument in 2013 when I became a Minister of Justice. My argument has not changed that no country which has not rallied consensus around the Constitution-making process has produced a Constitution that reflects the will and aspirations of that society,” Kabimba, a lawyer, said in an interview yesterday.

“During that time, I was saying to civil society organisations that can we find a mechanism or a platform which we can use to build this national consensus because in the absence of that, the product of this process will not reflect the aspirations of the Zambian people.”

Kabimba recalled that it was for that reason that his enemies at the time went into overdrive, maligning him up to the time when “I was dismissed from government that I was sitting on the Constitution.”

“[But] now I have been vindicated that because the Constitution amendment Act No. two of 2016 did not have the national consensus of all Zambians, it has failed to deliver to the expectations of the Zambian people,” he said.

“Having drawn lessons from that, it is the position of the Rainbow Party that if the government wants to effect any amendments to 2016 Constitution amendments Act No. two, they must find a mechanism for consensus. That consensus in our view as the Rainbow Party can only be through the national dialogue process. So, we need the national dialogue over the Constitution.”

Kabimba advised that the ongoing debate around the Constitution-making process should not be seen to be driven by the government again because “that’s what happened with the Constitution Act No. two of 2016.”

“It became a government-driven process, hence its consequent failure. So, the government should take a cue; draw a lesson from not only 2016 but going as far back as the Chona Commission of 1972 and subsequent constitutional amendment review processes. They failed ideally because they could not engender national consensus,” Kabimba cautioned.

“So, this time around we hope everybody has learnt a lesson from the past failures. We hope the government can take a different direction, a direction which ensures that the process shall be driven by the Zambian people, shall reflect the desires and aspirations of the Zambian people and the product from there shall confirm those desires and aspirations.”

He indicated further that anything short of his commentary on the Constitution would be another failed process.

“We can’t continue on a path of failure because a society that is on auto pilot of failure cannot see any social and economic development. That is our position as the Rainbow Party!” said Kabimba.

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