Going forward

The road to the new constitution was rough and acrimonious.

 For a while our country was seriously divided with different groups taking seemingly intractable positions from which they refused to budge because it would have represented a   betrayal of the “people”.

The constitution has since been passed and only awaits assent of the President.

This is perhaps the best time to reflect over the process to ensure that future divisive political matters do not create such divisions and fissures which threaten the very foundations of the nations.

Questions will linger for many years to come if we could have dealt with this constitution making process in a less fractious and divisive nature as it is obvious that this final product was a result of debate, sometimes born out of emotion rather than substance.  Many issues that should have been discussed as canvassed by chiefs and other stake holders have passed without debate because the final product became political.

There is no doubt that from time to time our country will be confronted with issues and concerns on which divisions will arise. Particularly worrying was the position taken by the Grand coalition, championing for a “people” driven constitution.

Late President Michael Sata was quite caustic about the “people driven” phrase, suggesting there was no animal driven constitution.

To the very end the coalition insisted on the entire document being taken to a standalone referendum. This was a position opposed by the Government, civil society  and political parties who felt that  given our current economic, social and political circumstances the  process would have been time consuming and expensive.

Working overnight our MPs have produced a constitution containing most of the clauses that seemed to cause most of the contention.

It is indeed honourable to take a position on such a political matter as the constitution.  But it is the degree to which this division has been taken that is worrying.  At one stage it bordered on total disregard for other views thereby undermining the very basis of democracy which allows for diversity.

Like all things political, the constitution is nothing more than a legal or statutory construct that is intended to embody the most important laws by giving them ordained authority.

But not all countries have written constitutions.  Such countries advanced democratically as they are have unwritten constitutions which is simply made up of system of laws customs and conventions which then create organs of government.

Therefore in the United Kingdom you will not find a formally written constitution.  Meaning that governance relies on a culture and the acceptance of a people to follow rules and procedures that define the character of governance.

In short a constitution determines the manner of governance but will not command absolute or immediate loyalty by all parties.

Otherwise most constitutions especially in the developing world are honored more in breach than observance.  Some constitutions are not even worth the paper they are written on because those in authority refuse or simply ignore the tenets and demands set out in the document.

That is why the unseemly conduct of the coalition was not only unfortunate but a very poor presentation of sectarian or sectional interest because it totally disregarded the opinion of other people who advanced a more workable and perhaps pragmatic approach that has subsequently seen the new constitution being voted for.

What remains now is to see the observance of the devil that is in the detail.

Categorized | Editorial

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