By Tetiwe Mweemba
The Women movement in the country have observed that the Republican Constitution remains the bedrock of any meaningful and sustainable national development and has called on Government to outline a roadmap for holding the national Referendum for the adoption of the expanded Bill of Rights in the Legislative Document.
Speaking at a joint Media briefing in Lusaka organised by the Non-Governmental Coordinating Council NGOCC, Young Women Christian Association of Zambia YMCA, Zambia National Women’s Lobby ZNWL, the Zambia Federation of Disability Organisation ZAFOD and others, NGOCC Board Chairperson Mary Mulenga who represented the views of the Women Movement urged President Lungu to consider building consensus on the Constitution making process by listening to the people’s voices and withdraw the retrogress provisions in the Constitutional Bill No. 10.
“The Constitution derives from the people; and the people should have the final say as to what will be contained in their document. A process that is not inclusive is bound to fail. We are therefore happy to note that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu made a statement that he is ready to meet the main opposition leader. Kenya did it, we can also do it,” Ms. Mulenga noted.
She also appealed to opposition political party leaders to exercise tolerance in both behaviour and speech.
Ms. Mulenga also urged the Executive to also reach out to all stakeholders including the civil society, other political parties and the Church.
Meanwhile, the Women Movement has stated that the National Dialogue Forum did produce both progressive and retrogressive provision.
“For NGOCC, it has always been our outcry that the playing field especially in politics has never been leveled, hence, the very low numbers of women in political positions as can been seen in the current statistics. We also noted that the numbers in the recent past have further declined. The picture in non-political decision making positions is not very different either. Therefore, the adoption of the Mixed Member Electoral System, as one of the progress provision, gave us hope that this would enhance the participation of women, youth and people with disabilities in Parliament and the local Councils, Ms. Mulenga stated.
And speaking at the same event, the Zambia Federation of Disability Organisation (ZAFOD), proposed that 10 percent quota of total number of seats in Parliament be reserved for persons with disabilities and in line with the SADC and AU protocols, 30 percent of total number of seats be reserved for the marginalized group categorized as women youths and persons with disabilities.
ZAFOD Chairperson for the Technical Working Group Joseph Shinaka explained that in the case of Persons Living with Disabilities, the ten percent designated seats be filled in by way of recommendations and nominations through Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) through an alternate or Zebra arrangement .
“The first Qualification for a person to be nominated and adopted under this quota is to have a disability as defined by the Persons with Disability Act No. 6, of 2012 and meets the eligibility requirements as specified in article 70 of the 2016 (amendment) Constitution,” Ms Shinaka submitted.
She further proposed that the tenure of office for a Person with Disability whose adoption is ratified by Parliament shall be a maximum of two five-year terms, after which the person will not be eligible any more to be nominated under the disability quota.