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STATEMENT TO LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

STATEMENT TO LAUNCH A CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

March 08
19:38 2017
Simon Kabanda

Simon Kabanda

By SIMON KABANDA

Expert in Constitution Making
 
KAPINGILA GUEST HOUSE, KABULONGA, LUSAKA
6 MARCH 2017
 
Theme: “REFERENDUM, A GIANT STEP TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT OF THE ZAMBIAN WOMEN”.
 
May I begin by recognising the presence of Church Leaders and Leaders of Church Organisations here present, Members of Parliament, the Women’s Movement, Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Members of the Press and the General Public, all Ladies and Gentlemen.
 
Yesterday, 5 March 2017, marked exactly one year two months since the 2016 Amended Constitution was assented to by His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the President of the Republic of Zambia. In two days’ we shall be commemorating the International Women’s Day.
 
This year’s International Women’s Day was going to be a celebration, had the 2016 Amended Constitution been completed to include Women’s Rights in the Bill of Rights. However it is not a celebration because there is no reason to celebrate.
 
However, we can create for ourselves an opportunity to celebrate if we come together as one and demand for the conclusion of the constitution making process. The Assent to the 2016 Amended Constitution did not mark the conclusion of the constitution making process.
 
The 2016 Amended Constitution is therefore an incomplete document. This is because the Bill of Rights has not been enhanced to include the Gender Rights (which encompass Women’s Rights), Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and other Special Rights.
 
Article 51 of the Draft Constitution that was produced by the Technical Committee on Drafting the Constitution, which I was part of, is about the Equality of Both Gender, and it states as follows:
1) Women and men have the right to equal treatment and opportunities.
2) Women and men have an equal right to inherit, own, use, administer and control property.
3) A woman and a man have equal rights in the marriage and at the
Dissolution of the marriage.
4) Without limiting a right or freedom, women and men have the right to –
(a) Reproductive health, including family planning and access to related information and education;
(b) Acquire, change or retain their nationality, including the right to change the nationality of their child if this is in the best interest of the child;
(c) Choose residence and domicile;
(d) Guardianship or adoption of a child; and
(e) Choose a family name.
Article 52 (1) outlines Economic and Social Rights, as follows:
A person has the right, as prescribed, to –
(a) Health care services;
(b) Decent housing;
(c) Food of acceptable standard;
(d) Clean and safe water;
(e) Decent sanitation;
(f) Social protection; and
(g) Education.
Clause (2) of Article 52 further states that “A person shall not be denied emergency medical treatment”.
 
 
The question now, ladies and gentlemen, is: how are we going to attain constitutional guarantees of these necessities of life, these matters of life and death?
 
We are going to have Constitutional guarantees of gender rights, women’s rights, economic, social and cultural rights in Zambia, only when the country holds a successful National Referendum. The Bill of Rights can NEVER be amended without having a Referendum. Therefore the issue of holding a National Referendum to enhance the Bill of Rights is a non-negotiable undertaking.
 
Today(Monday 6th March 2017), we have gathered to launch a vigorous Campaign for Women’s
Constitutional rights. The theme of this campaign is:”REFERENDUM, A GIANT STEP TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ZAMBIAN WOMEN”
 
All of you present here, who are participating in this launch, are being sent on a special mission, are being sent into action, to work towards ensuring that the Bill of Rights is amended to include gender rights, women’s rights, economic, social and cultural rights.
 
We are two days away from the commemoration of the International Women’s Day. My appeal to the Women’s Movement, to the women of Zambia, is that during this year’s commemoration of the International Women’s Day, use the occasion to make a demand to government. And make only one demand: the Referendum. Demand for a Referendum.
Nothing else, but a Referendum. Once you have made that demand, ask government to make a commitment to this effect. And that commitment should not be by a matter of speaking. It should be a concrete commitment.
On 23 November 2016, I guided the nation and advised government, as an Expert in Constitution Making, that we needed to hold a Referendum in August 2018. As you make a demand for a Referendum, ask government for a commitment to holding it in August 2018. This is when it will be a CONCRETE commitment.
And in order to have a successful National Referendum, there is need for adequate preparation of the people. In November 2016 I made a proposal to government to constitute a team of people to be entrusted with a task of coming up with a programme of preparing the people for the National Referendum. My proposal was that such a team should be in place by January 2017. This has not happened. Therefore as you make a demand for a Referendum, in two days’ time, ask government to constitute the proposed team of people. Only when such a team is
constituted will we say government is committed to the enhancement of the Bill of Rights.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opportunity to enhance the Bill of Rights to include gender rights, women’s rights, economic, social and cultural rights, and other special rights. Let us utilise this opportunity by getting into action. This is not time for simply making statements and
sitting back, especially reactionary statements, no. What is needed now is CONCRETE action. And this is what I mean by CONCRETE action:
1) Once you have made a demand to government, follow up on that demand by engaging government, without tiring. Engage the President; engage the Vice President; engage Ministers; engage Members of Parliament; engage whoever is connected to the issue of holding a National Referendum to amend the Bill of Rights;
2) As for me, your expert in constitution making, I have written a letter to each woman Member of Parliament, asking her to make the sustainable development of Zambian women as her priority during her time as a Parliamentarian.
 
3) Beyond this launch, do not just go and sit in your offices and communities. Begin to prepare yourselves and your people for the Referendum. Do not wait for government to make a pronouncement to hold a Referendum for you to begin preparing the people.
Mainstream the issue of the Referendum in all your activities. Whatever plans and budgets you have for 2017, make use of them to prepare people for a Referendum. If you are stuck on how you can include the issue of the Referendum in your 2017 planned activities, your expert in constitution making will be on hand to help you.
4) Today I called you to this launch in order to give you expert guidance. I am not going to call you again. I will wait for you to call on me for expert advice, as I do other things befitting an expert.
 
Simon Kabanda (SIMON KABANDA
Expert in Constitution Making) www.rainbownewszambia.com
 
 

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