BY NGANDE MWANAJITI
Exodus 23 notes: “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute…”
Just as a reminder paragraph five (5) of the preamble of the Zambian Constitution as amended in 1996 reads “Declare the Republic as a Christian nation while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person’s freedom of conscience or religion”
Article 1 sub article (2) reads “All power resides in the people who shall exercise their sovereignty through the democratic institutions of the State in accordance with this Constitution” (The Constitution). A good Constitution is thus imperative.
I shall not relent to call upon all Zambians, irrespective of station in life, to take upon themselves to respect our institutions. They are creations of our Constitution!
Remember, there is a big difference between observing or respecting the law and abusing the law. I totally agree with the view of President Edgar C. Lungu that we cannot as a people, be doing the same things that have failed us in the last 50 years. Commonsense demands that if a thing is not working – in concrete terms, if a car has a puncture, you must have the tyre mended or changed as it were.
Of course, just like anything can be explained or justified, not all will agree with this position for many reasons. The fact though is that a punctured tyre must be attended to.
You may repair a thing in the interim but ultimately, replacement is a better and durable option for society.
It is important, therefore, to ensure that all our institutions (not individuals) and that includes all clubs, are compliant with the laws of the land. Individuals operating such laws must strive to be men and women of high integrity!
As the Constitution demands, all our institutions must be democratic in all ways and there can be no compromise on anything else at variance with the supreme law.
We need democratic institutions which must as a matter of necessity, frown upon any iota of unreasonableness or its neighbour of greed. This in effect means that the process to aim for both delivery and process accountability must be accelerated.
I have argued before that power, that is too much and not checked, leads to abuse. (Evidence is in abundance!) Regrettably, more times than not, the victim are our very own institutions, such as Parliament, the Judiciary and several units of the Executive.
Since words make up our communications menu, take the word “corruption” for instance, it is a term which has not only been abused but a term, which has come to mean different things to different people, for whatever reason.
This unfortunately, and as would be expected, has led to “fighting corruption, using corruption” in many of our jurisdictions. I do not doubt that in Zambian citizens and residents will stand against any form of injustice.
Just as a concrete way of responding to law reform, a great window of opportunity has been created by President Lungu around the need for a new Constitution and the need to reform the Public Order Act. (A few people argue that the POA must be done away with and many more, who include lawyers, favor reform) .
These are issues of understanding and detail and my prayer is that no responsible person shall try to make political mileage out of possible law reform.
Equally important, it will be tragic to allow partisan based arguments to take centre stage. Friends, we do not just need a new Constitution but we need a GOOD NEW CONSTITUTION.
Back to the issue of corruption, I am against the view that only the President and not the Presidency, must speak against corruption. In our system, the same President has under his or her charge, an agency created by Parliament and tasked to fight corruption (not witchhunting).
I am also strongly opposed to the view that some individuals stand above the law, not necessarily by what they say or write but more by what they do.
We call acts that offend humanity as belonging to the class of offenses that perpetrate impunity and go against Article 15 of our Constitution. (This Article offers NO DEROGATION).
Equally and of great negation, circulating false reports by whatever means – on social media or otherwise, is a danger to our society and the holy bible forbids such.
Similarly, joining hands with whosoever to engage in wicked activities is an affront to humanity and a gross violation of human rights only comparable to Nazi style witchhunts. You cannot be a witness who “manufactures stories” or attends to a particular matter because of other circumstances that offend human dignity.
How do you follow a crowd that is promoting criminality for instance, if you are a believer in the rule of law and if you have your bearings correct on issues of fairness, equity and justice? Are you one of those unfortunate people,who like hero-worshipping criminals and wrongdoers?
These are some of the challenges that I see as eating at the fabric of our society.
The cure is in having strong institutions. We need a strong Judiciary. We need a strong Parliament and we need a strong Executive. As a compliment or supplement, a strong and vibrant civil society, beyond Churches, NGO and other clubs.
How do we achieve such?
In my view, we have absolutely no choice but to embrace meritocracy as a beginning point. We must put prime consideration on issues such as delivery accountability as well as process accountability.
Can anybody expect a person like me, whose qualifications are so distant from medicine, to offer to operate on a patient?
Nay! Even if I did operate on a patient, it will not only be illegal, the results would be disastrous, to say the least!
Take a job for instance – it will definitely deliver on some kind of income. It may be a huge or small salary.
But, delivery would have registered. Now, that is on the one side of the coin. What about of the work front? Can a gardener do a good job of producing a balance sheet for say a bank? I do not think so! Talk to you next week.
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