CONSTITUTIONAL law experts John Sangwa and Professor Muna Ndulo have been accused of being recruits out to undermine the refinement of the Constitution.
At a newsmakers forum organised by News Diggers newspaper in Lusaka last week on Friday, Sangwa – a State Counsel – and Prof Ndulo dressed down the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019, a product of the National Dialogue Forum (NDF).
But Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe, at a media briefing at Kitwe’s Crossroads Lodges yesterday, alleged that the two lawyers, together with some civil society organisations, were hell-bent on undermining the refinement of the Republican Constitution.
“Some civil society interest groups and persons such as Muna Ndulo and John Sangwa have been recruited on an attempt to undermine the refinement of the Constitution which would have allowed it to become consistent with the people’s aspiration, enhance democracy and meet international standards for a durable constitution that could stand the test of time,” Ntewewe told journalists.
He added that it was unacceptable for Sangwa, “while playing his politics,” to brand the intention of changing the Constitution by those elected to the Office of the President as criminals.
“The question is how can a man who himself had been in court and accused of forgery and yet no one called him a criminal call Kenneth Kaunda, Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, Michael Chilufya Sata, and President Edgar Chagwa Lungu as criminals merely because these honourable men presided over the constitution reform processes?” he asked.
“This is very saddening and not inspiring at all.”
Ntewewe continued his defence for the NDF, saying it had over 350 people of various backgrounds: “who included respected constitutional lawyers and professional draftspersons whose daily duties are to draft the laws of Zambia.”
He cited four constitution provisions, among them entrenchment of Christianity and respect for other religions, enhancement of security of tenure for judges, as progressive.
Ntewewe dismissed ‘the propaganda’ that the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019 sought to abolish the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), which was a creature of an Act of Parliament and not the Constitution.
He further argued that the right to belong to any religion was not protected by the preamble of the Republican Constitution but that it was entrenched in Article 19 of the Bills of Rights.
“This Article, like many other Articles, was not altered at all. We want to reiterate that the Zambian Constitution, even with the proposed deletion of multi-religious and firm declaration that this country remains a Christian nation, shall continue to recognise the rights of other persons to practice their faith or leave their religions to join other religions,” Ntewewe, who was a delegate to the NDF, said.
Meanwhile, Ntewewe defended the proposed removal of constitutional provisions for the maximum number of members of parliament in the National Assembly.
“[It] is in tandem with best international practice that have seen constitutions like that of the United States of America standing the test of time by avoiding amendments to the Constitution every time the number of constituencies are increased through delimitation,” argued Ntewewe.
“It is merely propaganda that the PF administration has been wanting to create more seats for itself in their stronghold. The amendment to the Zambian Constitution will allow room for growth without the need to be amending the Constitution all the time we want to increase the number of seats.”