THE National Dialogue Forum has adopted resolutions to amend Article 60 of the Republican Constitution, leading to the withdrawal of the political parties bill from being considered by the Forum. Briefing journalists at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday, NDF spokesperson Isaac Mwanza said the Forum resolved that Article 60 of the Constitution relegates some of its provisions to subsidiary legislation. The delegates resolved also that the provision in Article 60 that provided for financing of political parties with representation in Parliament, from public funds, be deleted.
Article 60 of the Republican Constitution is centred on political parties.
“The amended Article 60 has necessitated the withdrawal of the bill from being considered by the Forum in order to give room to the Ministry of Justice to redraft the bill so it could reflect the position that might come into being if Parliament decided to enact the Constitution,” Mwanza said, adding that justice minister Given Lubinda has since issued a Statutory Instrument to extend the timeframe of the NDF until tomorrow.
He also highlighted some of the Forum’s resolutions on public order, secondary issues on the Constitution and the electoral process bills.
Without saying how many of the adopted resolutions would form the final provisions of the Constitution amendment bill 2019, Mwanza indicated that all adopted provisions must be considered as “work-in-progress.”
“The Forum may decide to affirm adopted resolutions or change these resolutions after reviewing how the adopted provisions sit in the final bills…” he said.
On the resolutions made by the NDF on the public order bill of 2019, Mwanza noted that the Forum resolved last week that public order Act shall not apply to religious gatherings and traditional events held at their places of worship, much as it does not apply to funeral processions.
“The Forum also adopted resolution to remove provisions requiring conveners of a meeting to furnish the police with a list of persons who may need to speak at a public meeting, the requirement for disclosure of issues to be discussed at public meeting and has asked the drafters to recast provisions that gives power to police officers to prohibit a public meeting from going ahead as that would be tantamount to asking people to obtaining permission rather than notifying the police of the meeting to be convened,” Mwanza said.
Resolutions on the Constitution, according to Mwanza, include retention, in the preamble of the Constitution, declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation. The Forum agreed that the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation should further be provided for in Article 8 under part 2 of the Constitution. Mwanza added that another contentious issue settled by consensus of the Forum was the election of mayors and council chairpersons by councillors from among themselves.
“This will ensure that councillors who are elected by all people within the district and those who lead the council as mayors and council chairpersons become accountable to each other on the running of councils and to the people who elected them in the districts,” he explained.
Mwanza said the NDF also resolved to refine the Constitution by re-introducing deputy ministers as a way of resolving the gap that “was created in management of ministries.”
“The Forum is exploring strengthening the position of these deputies to act in the absence of their superiors than the current or former situation where deputies would not do so,” said Mwanza.
“This resolution was adopted based on very compelling arguments by those who argued in favorable for reintroduction or not.
Mwwanza also said the NDF had resolved that provincial ministers and Cabinet ministers will be full Cabinet ministers.