Constitution: The way forward

We beg to differ with vice president Guy Scott, who feels that the way forward with the constitution making process lies with a consensus being established by the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ).

We would rather a less encumbered institution drove the process.

A more representative body in the character of the oasis forum or indeed the Grand coalition should take charge of refining the Technical Committee draft that is now in the public domain in order to arrive at a national consensus.

The resultant document as suggested by political activist Dante Saunders should constitute the holy grail to which all prospective parties aspiring for office in 2016 should swear and affirm. 

Naturally, this will not include the Patriotic Front that has shown such bad faith, thereby eroding the confidence any Zambian would have in promises they will make towards 2016 elections.

That Zambians want a new constitution is not an issue except  for the PF which  has described the demand as being irrelevant. Zambian needs a new constitution that will protect the nascent democracy and ensure that no single party whether in office our outside will conduct itself in a manner that prejudices the rights and interests of all citizens.

This will mean that oversight institutions, law and order institutions and the judiciary will be above the political fray. In other words, judges, heads of anti-corruption commission, senior police officers and related institutions must enjoy security of tenure that will not depend on the whims and caprices of the party in power.

In other words the inspector general of police will be accountable to parliament through appropriate mechanisms to ensure that if cadres of any political party misbehave they can be caged and brought to book before an independent court whose judges are not partisan.

This is not the case now because the Inspector General of Police is directly answerable to party president who is also the head of state.  As a result party cadres from the ruling party can afford to beat up and chase policemen from a scene of crime without expecting any retribution because such action by the IG  will conflict with the ruling party.

This is a very dangerous scenario for any budding democracy because it puts some institutions above the law where they can misconduct themselves with impunity in the firm belief that they will not be prosecuted for their criminal conduct.

We agree entirely therefore with the proposition by political activist Dante Saunders that civil society drawing on its experience from 1964 through the various attempts at the new constitution must now work on and produce a document that will be truly owned by the Zambian people against which the promises of political parties campaigning for 2016 must pronounce themselves fully and clearly/.

We do not expect that LAZ alone given its current internal contradictions can lead this effort which requires the services of impartial objective and truly representative institutions such as the Church to direct and over see the effort.

We do not think that the vice president in his choice of LAZ was being particularly forthright considering that LAZ is only a small and very small component of the Oasis Forum.

His decision is therefore suspect.

Categorized | Editorial

2 Responses to “Constitution: The way forward”

  1. John says:

    It is advisable to organise for funding for this brilliant proposal from international donors so that we can have the document ready by 2016 elections. It should also include control of the acquisition of debt by govt as we have seen from PF that actually this function is not regulated giving an incumbent govt a blank check. Maybe it should be parliament to approve debt acquisition. By elections are a source of wastage of funds and measures should be put in place to avoid deliberate byelections. The electoral Commision of Zambia (ECZ) should also be one of the organisations above political party manipulation together with others you have mentioned. Maybe after all PF is right we need more time to really correct some of the recent anormalies in our constitution not addressed in the current draft. But this should be by 2016 elections. Africa can develop by developing its own systems which are responsive to our context and not systems and constitutions we just inherited from the west that do not speak to our needs.


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