50+1 clause


A PRESIDENTIAL rerun in a democracy is often encouraged because it allows a popular vote for a winning presidential candidate, but it must never come at the cost of peace and stability of the country.

Zambia’s political transition under the current Constitution clause of first-past-the-post has been smooth and had never threatened the peace and stability of the country unlike what other countries had experienced in the region.

Through many of the country’s Constitution review commissions, Zambians have demanded a 50+1 percent majoritarian vote for a winning presidential candidate and this week, Government presented to Parliament a Constitution Amendment Bill in which among other clauses is the 50+1 percent clause.

The 50+1 percent clause is currently at the committee stage of the National Assembly and stakeholders have been asked to present their submissions on the clause before it is finally tabled before Parliament for debate.

So far, what has been clear is that stakeholders are not as keen to have the clause in the new Constitution because they fear that while it sounds attractive and democratically correct, the process was not practical, logistical and lacks political consideration.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), the institution charged with the mandate to organize and manage the country’s electoral system, has welcomed the 50+1 percent with a ‘but’.

The commission has clearly stated that it does not see anything wrong with the clause but would be happy if Parliament debated and accepted the clause as that would lessen the burden of managing the electoral system.

The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has out-rightly rejected the clause because, they consider the rerun a major threat because of the  tribal and regional  politics practiced by political parties.

Our only hope is that as Parliament is going to debate this clause, the House  will look at the larger picture of the country’s interests rather than being partisan.

We must at all times avoid the desire of political success at the cost of national failure or calamity and any legislation, no matter how beautiful,  must never be the cause of differences or anarchy in the country.

Zambia has remained a shining and admirable example of peaceful power transition in Africa and as the country goes to the general elections next year, it remains our fervent hope that the country will not degenerate into lawlessness as a result of our own ‘‘good’’ laws.

Electoral failure should never be allowed as it has the potential to spark political chaos which could lead to violence if not well-managed.

Since the introduction of multi-party politics in Zambia, power has changed hands smoothly and peacefully regardless of how hotly the elections were contested.

It is easy to fan anarchy using the country’s laws and the consequences of such actions often have far-reaching impact on the governance of the country and its economic performance.

Categorized | Editorial

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