The Bills adopted are the draft Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the draft Electoral Process (Amendment) Bill, 2019, and the draft Public Order Bill, 2019.
“The Forum has sat for a total number of 16 days from the initial ten days that were provided for in the National Dialogue Act of 2019. The Minister of Justice had to extend the sittings of the Forum in order to effectively attend to all the Bills that were before the Forum. As you may be aware members of the Press, the mandate of the Forum was to Facilitate the implementation of resolutions that were made on 12th June, 2018, in Siavonga by Secretaries-General of political parties relating to Constitutional and institutional reforms,” said Forum secretary Patrick Chisanga yesterday.
“The Forum was further to facilitate the Constitution refinement process and regulation of political parties, public order and electoral process reforms…”
Some of the amendments made to the Constitution Bill 2019 by the NDF include the revision of the preamble to confirm that indeed Zambia remains a Christian nation by removing the words multi religious, among others.
“[We have also] adopted the principle for formation of coalition government where the candidates fail to reach the 50% plus one threshold provided the parties to a coalition government manage to galvanize the total of 50 percent plus one; Confirm that the National Assembly shall only dissolve at the date of the general election to allow Members of Parliament complete their full 5 year term,” Chisanga said. “Provide for entry of women and marginalized groups in Parliament and Councils through the mixed member electoral system; Affirm our people’s right to freedom of conscience by removing Section 9 clause 1 of the Public Order Bill which penalized people who refuse to sing the national anthem. This means that it is not mandatory for any group to sing the national anthem except at public functions; Revise the period for hearing of a presidential petition to 30 calendar days from the 14 days; Provide for the appointment of deputy Ministers; further, civil servants intending to seek political office must resign from their jobs two years before elections.”
He said on the draft Electoral Process Bill, 2019, the NDF had recommended a reduction of the campaign period from three months to sixty days.
Other recommendation are that independent candidates should select their symbols from the list made available by the Commission and that the ECZ must publish the election time table in a national wide circulation in addition to the gazette.
They have also recommended the provision of a coalition government.
On the Public Order Bill, 2019, the proposed amendments made are that there must be the provision of the enjoyment of the right of freedom of assemble and association and regulation of the conduct of public gatherings for the preservation of public order.
“We wish to assure you that in the process of validating and refining the Bills, NDF has been very open and transparent as you may be aware that all the proceedings were live on Parliament radio and TV. The process has just started as I indicated earlier on that this is work in progress, the Bills will then go to parliament where they will be enacted into law,” said Chisanga.
“As a Forum, I am happy to inform you that we have completed our task and the resolutions have since been adopted as you have witnessed.”