PF Plans to Block Passage of Draft Constitution – Source

By IAfrica
In Zambia
Aug 18th, 2014

The Patriotic Front (PF) government will not be passing the current draft constitution into law, a source close to the party tells Zambia Reports.

The draft prepared by the Technical Committee has already been completed and delivered to the cabinet, but several key members of the party are uncomfortable with a number of the clauses that may present a disadvantage to the sitting government, the source says.

According to the source, each cabinet member was given a copy of the draft constitution to study its contents, delivered via the Minister of Justice Wynter Kabimba. A meeting was convened to review the draft constitution, however the majority of cabinet members were very unhappy with several clauses of the document.

The source says that Kabimba has quietly been assigned the powers to sort out the draft constitution, which will involve co-opting members of the Technical Committee to have several clauses thrown out and new amendments made to the draft that will make it easier for the PF government to maintain control of the country.

One of the key areas that they are aiming to change in the constitution relates to the eligibility to run for the office of the president, the source says. Kabimba and his small faction of supporters are aiming to introduce a new clause to the draft constitution that would make it illegal for a person to stand for an election if they are facing charges before the court or if he or she has a criminal record, the source says.

If the PF is successful in introducing such a clause into the next version of the draft constitution and passes it into law, they will gain a tremendous advantage to disqualify their opponents such as UPND President Hakainde Hichilema, MMD President Nevers Mumba, and Former President Rupiah Banda based simply on politically motivated charges – not even convictions – the source says.

The issue of the delayed constitution and the non-transparent drafting process has recently been the source of much public tension. The rumours of President Michael Sata’s poor health have led to the assumption that he will not be standing for re-election, creating additional tensions among various factions within the ruling party, adding drama to the constitution process.

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