Don’t Blame Anybody if Constitution Struggle Turns Bloody, PF Warned

By IAfrica
In Zambia
Sep 1st, 2014

GRILLO AT GRAND COALITION PRESS BRIEFING 23 04 2014The Grand Coalition on the constitution has warned that the Patriotic Front should not blame anybody if the struggle for a new constitution turns bloody.

Featuring on Muvi Television’s The Assignment programme GC chairperson Father Leonard and another member Beatrice Grillo said Zambians were too afraid to reclaim their rights from politicians.

Grillo said although there had not yet been a need to resort to bloodshed, Zambians could act if pushed to the limit by politicians.

Meanwhile, Father Chiti also said the possibility of rallying behind an individual presidential candidate if the PF do not deliver a people driven constitution before 2016 had continued to surface in the coalition’s interaction with its members.

“We do not want bloodshed; we have not reached that stage. Zambia has enjoyed peace up to this stage, why do we want to ruin it by having bloodshed,” she said in an extremely guarded tone.

“But I think we are reaching the stage where if that is what it will take, I think our forefathers went through the same phase, they did not want to use bloodshed, they did not want to use all sorts of means but when they were pushed to the limit, if the Zambians are pushed they will act.”

She added: “It will not be us; it will be the Zambians because this is what they are saying, in fact some of them are saying you are delaying us because these people (PF) you are talking to won’t listen like you said but we are saying as Zambians we know how to negotiate.”

Grillo said although many people had complained about the lengthy talking period without action, she believed that the message was filtering to the target given the high handedness government acts in suppressing any proposed honking.

“It is a wrong impression being created that our message has fallen on deaf ears; it depends on whose ears. If you go into these meetings you would have known that our message is not falling on deaf ears,” she said.

“The fact that we have been intimidated and our meetings have been stopped means we are making an impact. For example the day we were supposed to do the honking, we were supposed to start 15:00 hours by 14:00 hours Munali was like a battlefield, if what we are saying is not having an impact why would the state machinery go and fill up the whole of Munali area. I packed there and I was like is there a war in Zambia and I thought maybe there had been a war because even when there is a coup you do not behave like that.”

Grillo said no one should blame the GC for leaving the discussion realm and stepped up to more radical means of demanding for a new constitution.

“A lot of people have said that we have been talking and I am happy that we are talking because when things happen no one will say we did not talk we were violent no. we have discussed for anybody who has ears to hear,” she said.

“I think the people of Zambia have spoken for 19 years we have been asking for the constitution and as the Grand Coalition and all our affiliates we have been talking so whatever is going to happen if you see people on the streets tomorrow nobody will say these people do not want to dialogue.”

She said, “I think if we just went into demonstrations people will say they did not give the government an opportunity to discuss. We have given government enough time to discuss. I am saying I am very proud of the approach because we have given government to discuss at every level they have refused.”

Grillo said, “This is historical when Zambia got independence didn’t they talk? After they finished and they felt we have talked enough they moved to the next stage and that is where we are but one thing I am happy about is that there is nobody who will stand out and say these people did not give us an opportunity.

Fr Chiti said Zambians had gained the notorious reputation of being too nice and being less demanding of their government.

“We have to admit that not many people believe that you have the right to demand from your government, if your government promises that this is what we are going to do for you,” he said.

“Today we are arguing on whether 90 days means 89+1 days or 91-1 how long is 90 days but it is there in black and white, the moment we (PF) assume power after 90 days we will have a document which we call a constitution which will be taken to a referendum but if we had Zambians who were militant enough if we had Zambians who believe in the rights that they have they would have long stood up and said you are lying.”

He said Zambians needed to fight their fear of facing the consequences of doing what is right.

“We are afraid, Zambians are afraid, you (moderator) alluded to the fact that we had expected 300 to 500 people yesterday why is it that we failed to fill up the hall because people are afraid,” he said.

“If they arrest me who is going to look after our children, no Fr Chiti you should speak for us but they do not want to speak for themselves that is what we need to interrogate within ourselves as a nation. Why are we afraid of our servants? They are our servants not our masters.”

He however warned against the belief that the constitution was only an agenda of a few people.

“To assume that we have no following whatsoever, people should not be surprised if they get a big surprise. Hasn’t it surprised many of us the spontaneous celebrations that have taken place after the development that took place two nights ago, the sacking of the minister of justice?”

“Who would have imagined that people within his party and outside will be celebrating his downfall? He must have assumed that he is the second most powerful person in the country and have people following him behind.”

He said, “I think the PF may be digging a grave for themselves if they assume that it is only Fr Chiti and Mrs Grillo who are talking about the constitution because a lot of people are talking about the constitution.”

He said that the coalition will roll out new strategies that will spread out to the provinces as opposed to focusing on Lusaka.

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