COMMON Grounds Network, a youth-oriented civil society organisation, says while Constitution (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 may not be the best, it is equally not the worst.
Network coordinator David Mvula, at a media briefing in Lusaka on Saturday, said the contentious bill 10, like any other bill which the executive takes to Parliament was not perfect.
He noted that the bill had clauses which were good and bad but that the duty to realign or removal of bad clauses from a constitution lies with members of parliament.
“Our members of parliament cannot, therefore, shy away from performing this duty to clean up this bill after it has passed the second reading,” Mvula told journalists.
Mvula indicated that politicking over bill 10 ought to be re-directed to discussions on how best to bring changes to the bill.
“We therefore call upon members of parliament, especially from the UPND, to exercise greater leadership and give this bill a chance to be amended after the second reading,” he said.
“At that point, if the contentious issues are not resolved after second reading, the UPND and others can withdrawal their vote at third reading.”
He added that the Republican Constitution was for all citizens and not a tiny fraction of voices from civil society organisations who may have reservations on the bill.
Mvula pointed out that Common Grounds Network (CGN) was most passionate about the provision in bill 10 that would allow youths to be represented in the national assembly, through the mixed member proportional representation system.
“As a youth movement, the Common Grounds Network reminds each and every MP that you owe the youth a duty to make their representation in Parliament a reality,” he said.
“If you as MPs decide to shoot bill 10 down or walk away from Parliament, we shall be very certain that selfish interests will have prevailed over the interests of women, disability and youth representation.”
The Network further reaffirmed that it was opposed to withdrawal of bill 10.
“The current bill 10 may not be the best bill but it is never a worst bill. There is totally no justification [for the withdrawal of bill 10] when procedure in Parliament allows the cleaning of the bill by removing clauses which have been opposed,” said Mvula. “Our noble call to MPs is to listen to your conscience and participate in debating and refining bill 10. We are convinced that a few good MPs will listen to themselves, their conscience and will not be coerced to stay away from debating such an important matter.”
Meanwhile, Constitution Reform and Education Coalition (CRECO) chairperson Hyde Haguta has asked members of parliament to open the door for amendments to bill 10 by “allowing bill 10 to pass through the second reading with two thirds majority vote.”
“We are very confident at this stage that more than two thirds of members of parliament will prefer to take this route than to play politics with the bill,” said Haguta at a media briefing in Lusaka on Sunday. “CRECO wants to reaffirm that we shall continue to engage MPs, as we have silently been doing while educating members of the public on bill 10.”