By NATION REPORTER
THE State’s unwillingness to adhere to court orders has the effect of undermining the legitimacy and credibility of the judiciary and the rule of law, Chapter One Foundation (COF) has indicated.
Linda Kasonde, the president of the COF in her constitutional diagnosis study on the need for constitutional reforms said the judiciary was being undermined as it received public threats against its members.
Ms Kasonde also said that there was apparent partisanship of the law enforcement agencies in securing peace and security and law and order in relation to public meetings of the various political parties.
She said successive attempts at constitutional reform had failed to liberate Zambians from restrictions on participation in the political space but had instead increased the political tension in the country.
“Since the demise of President Levy Mwanawasa in 2008, who was widely perceived to observe the rule of law and champion of curbing corruption, there has been a decline in adherence to the principles of constitutionalism and the rule of law in the country. Most recently this was demonstrated by the following; the harassment of journalists perceived to be anti-establishment in an environment where there appears to be a decreasing tolerance for divergent views; and sowing seeds of division on the basis of tribal or political affiliation,” Ms Kasonde said.
Ms Kasonde said it had been the clarion call of civil society, since the reintroduction of multiparty democracy since 1991, for the need for a constitution that addressed anti-democracy laws by having a Constitution that was enacted through a citizen driven process.
“Chapter One Foundation undertook a Constitutional Diagnosis study to evaluate the status of the current constitutional reform process. The diagnosis highlights the gaps in the current constitutional framework and reasons why these gaps do not enhance democracy, good governance, and rule of law. This study interrogated the reasons why the Constitution, which is the supreme law of Zambia, requires reform,” she said.
She said the study detailed 11 substantial challenges that were not addressed by the Constitution in its present form.
Ms Kasonde said with regard to the doctrine of the Separation of Powers, the Constitutional Diagnosis Report identified the need for the Constitution to re-evaluate the relationship that existed between the three arms of our government.
“To remedy the challenges present in the current constitution, the study recommended that a good roadmap be created to guide the constitutional reform. The model roadmap suggested in the Constitutional Diagnosis Study Report recommends that five key areas related to constitutional reform: legislative protection of the constitutional reform process, a committee of experts to refine the draft constitution, removing the contentious issues from the hands of politicians, clarifying the role of Parliament in the constitution-making process and having a time-bound constitutional reform process,” Ms Kasonde said.