By Henry Kyambalesa

The decision by the Oasis Forum to embark on a series of nationwide efforts to put pressure on the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) and the government to conclude the constitutional review process this year is a clear reflection of its members’ commitment to be major voices of the voiceless in our beloved country. They, therefore, deserve the support of all Zambians who have the interest of Zambia at heart in this endeavor.

The statement made recently by Vice-President George Kunda in Parliament that the NCC will conclude its work in 2010 is a setback to the constitutional review process, which was initiated in February 2003 with the establishment of the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

The delay in the constitution-making process from December 2005 when the CRC presented its report and Draft Republican constitution to date seems to be the result of both personal and partisan interests.

It seems to be a result of MMD leaders’ opposition to the CRC’s recommendations relating to the appointment of Ministers from outside Parliament, the 50 + 1 requirement for winning the Republican presidency, presidential candidates having running mates, and so forth.

Opposition to the recommendation concerning the appointment of Cabinet Ministers from the general public, for example, is a result of attempts aimed at according greater control of the legislative arm of the government by the executive President through Ministers, and protecting the President from impeachment.

In this regard, Ms. Mutale Nalumango was quoted on February 26, 2005 as having said that the government rejected the recommendation to appoint cabinet ministers from outside parliament because doing so would put the President in a precarious position because he or she would have no control over parliament and, in the case of an impeachment motion, he or she would be vulnerable.

And the argument by Mr. Gabriel Namulambe that “it would be difficult for ministers who are appointed outside parliament to execute their duties as they would not understand issues affecting people at the grassroots” tells us volumes about the flawed reasoning of some MMD leaders, cronies, sycophants and sympathizers.

It certainly makes no sense for a tiny fraction of Zambians who are members of the NCC to suppress recommendations that were made by the CRC based on submissions made by citizens nationwide, such as the recommendation requiring a Republican president to appoint members of his or her Cabinet from non-Members of Parliament, which is important for several reasons.

1. Cabinet-level appointments from the Zambian society at large can afford a Republican president a larger pool of competent people from which he or she can constitute a Cabinet.
2.It can provide for greater separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government.
3.It can afford presidential aspirants enough time to identify potential ministerial appointees well before general elections rather than waiting for parliamentary elections to be concluded. Further, it would reduce the work overload on government officials who have to handle both ministerial and parliamentary functions.

What the government needed to do soon after the Mung’omba CRC submitted its Draft Constitution was to have a panel of representatives from duly registered political parties (1 from each of the 26 parties then) to constitute a body of 15 or so independent Zambian technocrats and charge them with the responsibility of ironing out any errors and inconsistencies in the Draft Constitution within a few months.

This approach can still be pursued by abolishing the NCC and, in the process, save the country huge sums of money. President Rupiah Banda can show leadership on this issue rather than wait until the NCC churns out a questionable Republican constitution that will be tainted by personal and partisan interests.

If the President makes such an executive decision, it could very well be his only opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by which his administration will forever be remembered.

As things stand now, it is clear that the NCC will not produce an acceptable Republican constitution – a people’s constitution expected to stand the test of time. Rather, it will produce a constitution that will be designed to suit the vested interests of the MMD. And whatever non-MMD government that will be given the mandate to assume the governance of the country will very likely constitute yet another constitutional review commission!

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12 COMMENTS

  1. good article though long my tea break is even over just because I was reading it.Well all Zambians can do is talk and talk and talk.Whats the point. The constitution will be MMD based whats anyone gonna do about it? think Sata-HH will do anything? Or perhaps those presidents from family parties Siulapwa and Cosmas mumba.Or perhaps Sondashi. Well I guess is the mouth is the only tool you have all you can do is talk aint it?

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  2. Issues raised in this article are very important and every well meaning should support the Oasis Forum in presurising the powers that may be to see the final end of the so called NCC. Oasis Forum we are behind you.

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  3. The major issue is that NCC should adopt those recommendations made for appointment of ministers outside parliament. May be the 50+1 also. But I don’t know what value having running mate will add to the constitution. So, doing away with NCC now on trivial grounds like issues of running mate would even be more costly because knowing how Zambians like starting from the beginning even nearly-finished issues, the committee you are proposing will extend the process even beyond 2010 as they’ll not be immune to error. So, rather than going about asking people to revolt against NCC we need to press for inclusion of that piece on appointment of ministers. In any case, won’t there be a chance for people to see whether their issues have been addressed before final adoption?

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  4. They never believed in it and vainly opposed. But now where will they get the credibility and goodwill to influence what they disdained? Number 1 entry has brains.These are blogobogio.Who will waste his time to listern to them when all channels been long lost? They should get busy to save their Friend Gilbert Temba found stealing.

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  5. The NCC is an exercise infutility. However, it should be allowed to conclude its work if only to prove its critics right. But it should not be allowed to extend its mandate beyond 2010. The contentious issues will be subject to a referendum and the aim is to finish everything by Dec 2010.

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  6. The reasons for opposing the appointment of ministers from outside parliament that were advanced by Mutale Nalumango are exactly why we want ministers from outside parliament. The strength of the president should emanate from cabinet collective decisions and not unilateral ones. The current system where every MP wants to be a minister results in patronage and lack of independence in Parliament. If MMD MP is against any MMD motion, the Chief whip (VJ) will report to his boss. Having ministerd s from outside parliament will also go towards attracting people who want to SERVE, as oppossed to people who want jobs. Its unfortunate that our “leaders” are not comitted to strenghthening our democratic institutions/framework.

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  7. We are in problems because of late Levy Mwanawasa and George Kunda who had a selfish way of looking the making of the constitution, period. Let’s not beat about the bush. Being the best lawyer in the country (personal opinion), Levy contended that, according to his understanding of constitution making it would have been very difficult and expensive to follow the recommendations of the Mung’omba CRC. Is it any cheaper since 2005?

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