PRESIDENT Lungu says he should not be held accountable for failure to deliver a new constitution if the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s efforts are frustrated by the opposition in Parliament.
And President Lungu says everyone has a role to play in ensuring that Zambia attains sustainable economic development and accountable leaders.
Mr Lungu said he has strived to ensure amendment of the constitution as desired by Zambians without going through a costly process but that some MPs are planning to derail this effort in Parliament.
He said Zambians have desired an amendment of the constitution since President Levy Mwanawasa’s administration (2001-2008) and that it was better to give them some now, than to keep deferring the matter.
President Lungu said partial review of the constitution is better than doing nothing.
He said Zambians want specific changes to be done to the constitution and these have been included in the constitutional amendment bill.
These include the dual citizenship clause, majoritarian system of electing the President, election of the vice-president as a running mate.
“I have done my part as the President of the PF to cut down on costs, ensure that we pick some of the clauses in the constitution which are not contentious, enact them now and in future have a new complete constitution,” President Lungu said.
The President said this on arrival at Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport yesterday.
He said the nation currently has no sufficient resources to work on the whole constitution but can afford to amend certain clauses.
President Lungu, however, said some people still don’t mean well.
“If the opposition refuse to make changes to the constitution, you judge them in 2016. I have done my part. Why should you keep shifting goal-posts as a leader who means well for the people of Zambia,” he said.
President Lungu pleaded with MPs and ministers to support the constitutional amendment bill.
He called on Zambians to judge for themselves who means well, and said that the PF means well in whatever it does.
“One of the things that is close to my heart now as Parliament continues deliberating is the constitutional amendment bill…people want the 50-percent-plus-one vote clause, we have put it in there, dual citizenship; it’s there.
“I am told as long as they remain the opposition, they will kill this motion. So what can I do? I am washing off my hands from this constitution amendment bill. If it’s lost in Parliament, I will have nothing to do with it again,” he said.
Mr Lungu said Zambians have cried for a lot of things which Government has harnessed and put in the constitution amendment bill.
He said the country has lost a lot of money on the constitution-making process.
“The country has spent lot money for commissioners and allowances. This is a very close matter to me, I want to see changes to the constitution,” he said.
And speaking when he officially opened the first-ever International Bar Association (IBA)’s Africa regional forum in Livingstone yesterday, President Lungu said Government is committed to working with all progressive forces in Zambia to ensure the development of country and the continent.
“The PF has made considerable strides in the achievement of a number of goals namely promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women in various arms of Government,” he said.
The IBA’s Africa regional forum is being held under the theme: “Building on the foundations for a successful future: Economic development and the rule of law in Africa.”
President Lungu said Africa can no longer continue looking elsewhere for solutions to the challenges it faces, other than within the continent.
He said unless Zambians continue to learn from fellow Africans, the country will continue to be plagued by poverty, disease and poor governance.
He called for a renewed sense of patriotism in ensuring that the nation prospers in all sectors by enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in running national affairs.
“Our efforts should be anchored on the theme of my address to the fifth session of the 11th National Assembly on September 18, 2015, ‘Embracing a transformational culture for a smart Zambia now.’”
“The solution to challenges faced in Africa lie in increasing the marketplaces for ideas to allow for greater cross-pollination of these ideas,” he said.
President Lungu observed that Africa has a long way to go towards achieving regional integration if statistics on intra-continental trade are anything to go by.
He said there is urgent need to address the free movement of persons within the continent, improve road networks, as this will enhance African trade.
He said a number of countries on the continent are now beset with the energy supply crisis and Zambia is no exception.
“We must, therefore, seize opportunities to create our own destiny. Ours is a youthful continent whose youth have fertile minds with ingenious ideas that we need to tap into,” he said.
President Lungu said while the nation builds on the success of the millennium development goals, they should result in the set of new sustainable goals that will contain targets which address social issues as key drivers to development.