With support of NIMD, Zambia’s political parties have founded the Zambian Centre for Interparty Dialogue (ZCID), which is instrumental in creating consensus and raising public awareness on the constitutional review process. The programme also empowers the rank-and-file of political parties to hold their leaders politically and financially accountable.
Reaching consensus on constitutional reforms
In 2008 ZCID organised a series of meetings in the provinces, bringing together party members and leaders to discuss the contents of the draft constitution. After each meeting, the parties issued a communiqué. to express consensus on key issues. The communiqués, all of which expressed a widely shared consensus on key issues, were well covered in the media, raising public awareness about the constitutional reform process.
Relations with civil society improved
Relations between political and civil society are characterized by a high level of distrust in Zambia. The constitutional review process is one of the areas where this tensions was visible in 2008. For the opposition parties it is crucial that the process is backed by civil society, in particular the Catholic Church. However, many civil society groups and organisations follow the review process with great suspicion and some CSOs have decided to boycott the process.
In this context, ZCID has developed a civic education programme on constitutional issues together with a dozen CSOs. The programme is scheduled to start early 2009 and is expected to contribute to confidence- building. Cooperation between political parties and CSOs to design civic education programmes on the constitutional review process could ameliorate relations and be a starting point for a dialogue with civil society .
Women and youth participation in policy-making
In all programmes organised in 2008, women were key participants and political parties were encouraged by ZCID to include women in their delegations. All sub-committees in the ZCID Board consist for 50% of women. Furthermore, ZCID has been working with the Zambia National Women’s Lobby to host a national women’s rights conference, which is to take place in 2009.