An official of Zambia’s National Constitutional Conference (NCC) told VOA the group will soon conclude an initial draft constitution ahead of next year’s general elections.
NCC spokesperson Mwangala Zaloumis said Zambians will have 40 days to read and discuss the draft and present their opinions to the NCC before the constitutional review process is concluded.
“We are just finalizing the completion of the preparation of the report and we hope that very soon we will be able to finalize the report and take (it) them to the printers,” she said.
Zambia's President Rupiah Banda
In 2007, Zambia’s late President Levy Mwanawasa appointed the NCC to review a proposed constitution in order to come up with a new document before the general elections scheduled for 2011.
This comes after the NCC reportedly concluded its review of what has been described as the Mung'omba draft constitution in April this year. However, it adjourned in order to allow the group to prepare a final draft constitution.
Zaloumis said the NCC is confident of delivering a new constitution before Zambia’s general elections.
“We can only do our best…because our terms of references [are] from a previous constitutional review commission that was chaired by Mr. Mung'omba, which is popularly known as the Mung'omba Constitutional Review Commission. And, if Zambians were happy with that and embraced that, well, we haven’t departed very much from that. In fact, I think we added value to that report and to that constitutional bill,” Zaloumis said.
The commission has a deadline of August 31 this year to present its report for public debate and comments.
Zaloumis said the NCC welcomes constructive comments to enhance its work.
“We are mandated by the NCC Act, and what is provided for in the Act is that the report should be circulated and, while the report is published and circulated, the public can comment accordingly. Those comments are supposed to be taken onboard to be considered. So, the NCC will sit again and look at the public comments and (decide) when to take them onboard or not,” Zaloumis said.
Meanwhile, The NCC was established under an Act of Parliament, which is Act No. 19 of 2007. The Act gives legal powers to the NCC to debate, recommend and adopt recommendations from the Mung’omba Draft Constitution and Report.
The Act gives the NCC a unique way of adopting Zambia’s national constitution.
Local media reports that, in the past, all Constitutional Review Commission recommendations were adopted by government through white papers. However, the creation of the NCC has provided Zambia with a unique opportunity to provide a Constitution that shall incorporate people’s views, demands and aspirations. The NCC has the widest stakeholder representation.