This is article 2 of 6 in the series ‘ A Critical Analysis of the Imperialist Driven Constitution by Chief Chitimukulu ‘

    1. A Critical analysis of the Imperialist Driven Constitution Part 1- The Preamble
    2. A Critical analysis of the Imperialist Driven Constitution Part 2 – One Man,One Vote

HIGHCOURT Phiri, casts his vote at Chiparamba Sub-centre in a Kasenengwa by-election in Chipata

By Henry Kanyanta Sosala-Chitimukulu

One Man, One Vote

During the colonial rule, the franchise was defined in terms of income, property and educational standards. The motto was: ’’Equal rights for every civilized man. Who is a civilized man? A man whether white or black who has sufficient education to white his name, has property or works, in fact is not a loafer.’’ The rate of progress therefore towards African majority rule was presumed to be mechanical and based on an objective test of educational standards and income levels.

The freedom fighters were demanding for universal suffrage. During the struggle for independence, the African political wisdom was summarized in the slogan, “one man, one vote.” And when independence was achieved, it came as a package deal, which had extended the vote to the peasants.

And therefore “one man, one vote” was the only legacy that we second-class citizens had firmly held on to, which was bequeathed to us by our uneducated ancestors who spilled their blood for this country’s independence. And this simply meant that anyone aspiring for whatever political office should have our endorsement in in-spite of our humble status in life.

Zambia has had four constitutions since the attainment of independence in 1964:

(a) The 1964 Constitution (independence Constitution).

(b) The 1973 One-Party Constitution (Mainza Chona Constitution).

(c) The 1990 Constitution (Patrick Mvunga Constitution).

(d) The 1996 Constitution (John Mwanakatwe Constitution).

The Zambian People are ruled by instruments they cannot comprehend let alone make any sense of

What is amazing is that in July 2008, European constitutional experts at a meeting in Germany said at their deliberations that there was nothing like a ‘’constitution that would stand the test of time,’’ since situations change and generations change. What is meant is that, some articles in the famous American Constitution have been altered since 1770 when it was enacted, but they do not as we do throw away the old constitution in order to enact a new one.

Professor Michelo Hansungule in Keynote Paper: Constitutionalism and Constitutional Development wrote:

‘’The problem behind this mushrooming of constitutions in such a short time is that it would appear that Presidents want to have a new constitution at every turn of the road. Politicians think that the answer to every problem they face is to have a new constitution, which is not the case. Even when it is in order to cater for their ambitions, they turn to the constitution and this is the real problem Zambia faces.

‘’Most Zambians do not have a clue about ‘their’ constitution. Few have had a feel of it and even fewer can recite more than one line. The only interaction between authorities and the people hearing on the constitution is when there is a Commission of Inquiry going round the country asking people to advert their minds on the terms of reference set up by the authorities in Lusaka relating to their governance. Besides this, opportunities of engagement over the constitution do not exist.

‘’The terms in the constitution are intimidating to most people. The Zambian Constitution, unlike the South African Constitution, for example, is not user friendly. It is a constitution, which sounds like it was made for people in London or Stockholm but not for people in Ng’ombe compound in Lusaka or Siangombo district in Western Province. This elitist tendency is deliberate. The rulers do not really make an effort to come up with a constitution that people can understand and use in the local situations. Some of the terms used in the constitution are such that even legislators cannot make sense of them. The 1996 constitution of South Africa has departed from this tendency. The constitution is user friendly and written in a language that ordinary people can understand. South African authorities went to the extent of recruiting English experts to break down the legal texts written by draftspersons and put them into simple ordinary English. This is what can be called a ‘people’s’ constitution.

‘’Nearly all the two hundred plus chiefs we have had in our workshops have never seen the Zambian constitution, let alone know it and yet they are expected to administer their communities as part of the executive branch of government. This is one reason why it is so simple to be dictatorial in Africa. People are ruled by instruments they cannot comprehend let alone make any sense. Constitutions are regarded as documents better left to the rulers who know better, yet scholars say they are products of the people. Which people? It is very easy in these circumstances to use the constitution to fool the people into submission to misrule.’’

 

On the point of ‘’misrule,’’ I’ll quote from Akashambatwa Mbikusita-Lewanika’s manuscript, Sower of Independence: Case for Re-Decolonisation of how the UNIP regime manoeuvred to take total power to control and silence their political opponents.

‘’……..in Zambia, lack of restraint on government is supported by the original independence constitution’s presidentialism, which allows for one person to be the head of state, head of government, commander-in-chief of the armed forces and leader of the ruling party, with a legislature that is dominated by the executive branch. As if this was not enough, government leadership manoeuvred through the 1969 ‘Referendum to end all referenda.’

‘’Zambian journalist, the late Goodwin Mwangilwa in The Kapwepwe Diaries exposed a broader context in which this referendum was conducted and it illustrates the naked nature of the post-colonial nation-state in Zambia. In this vein, he has written that:

In 1966, Nalumino Mundia had been relieved of his post for having a business interest when he was a minister. He joined forces with United Front, an ANC splinter group led by Berrings Lombe. It later became United Party. Under the 1964 Constitution, the government could only hold dissidents for a specific period after which it was compelled to appoint a tribunal made up of three judges to review the cases of detainees. With growing discontent and need for government to flex its muscle against opposition, it became inevitable that the clause dealing with fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals and protection of an individual against deprivation of property be repealed. But to do so required a nation-wide referendum in which government was expected to have (at least) a fifty percent majority.

It is difficult to sell such constitutional changes to a suspicious electorate guarding their civil liberties jealously, so in the ensuing campaign towards the Referendum to end all referenda on 17th June 1969, emphasis was placed on other issues especially land which was ‘held in perpetuity’ by the white settlers who had bought it for a song.

Vice-President Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe in the thick of the campaign had said,

‘The British have never liked a black man. For seventy years, they never made laws to protect his interests here. But at the end of (their) regime in 1964, they made a clause which bars us from taking over shops and vast tracts of absentee ownership.’

Toasting UNIP’s victory in the referendum on July 13, Kapwepwe said it was a fulfillment of several of the Party’s objectives to ensure absolute power was handed over to the real owners of the land.

But Mwangilwa goes on to record that:

Two years later…..Things had soured. Having left the Party and government in frustration, Kapwepwe had formed the United Progressive Party in order to fight elections and take over government so that he would strictly adhere to the constitution that he claimed UNIP had ‘ditched.’ Seventy-five Kapwepwe’s best officials and supporters were picked up in a raid conducted in the early hours of the morning of 20th April 1971. Kapwepwe denounced the infringements of the constitution. He said the arrests were ‘worthy of a Hitler.’

post-colonial governments have been ‘preoccupied with how to win and retain power


‘’Clearly, the 1969 Referendum result was, and was intended to be, a licence for easily changing the constitution, and everything else government wants, in the direction of further consolidating and concentrating power in the presidency, including imposing proscribing all opposition parties and imposing a one party state and continuing with the colonial practice of detaining political nonconformists. Indeed, before and since then, post-colonial governments have been ‘preoccupied with how to win and retain power, overriding the need for due sense of balance and restraint.’ Thus, the post-colonial nation-state has not only been inappropriate, but also much abused, at the cost to civil and human rights and there have been no sacred cows.’’

History is the serial obituary of men whom the same type of constitution designed by the British Government gave the powers of invisibility. George Sydney Abugri wrote that

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the Pan-African champion who led Ghana to independence, but ended up as a repressive despot and declared a one party state and whose opponents tried to kill seven times via bomb explosions. He was eventually overthrown by America’s CIA using Nkrumah’s local detractors as a front. (New Africa magazine No. 490 December 2009 pp 40/41).

The lesson is clear: liberty and monopoly cannot live together.

…………To be continued

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23 COMMENTS

    • I am learning history I never knew about from these articles ,particularly about Simon Kapwepwe.I wish Zambia had listened to people like him.The constitution indeed is not writen in a language the ordnary person can understand.How many ordinary Zambians even know what this constitution debate is all about. Let us stop doing things without thinking them through.

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    • Nothing new from this man. He’s just compiled what others have written and that is what makes his writings boring. I have already read the books he’s copying from.

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    • There’s something terribly wrong when an old man like Mr Sosala can stand up and call our 51 year old constitution as “imperialist”. This is the same nonsense that Sata used to blame the Public Order Act on the British. So what is the point of being independent when you cannot or will not write the rules that you want to govern yourselves by? Who is holding Zambians hostage here – the British or our selfish “leaders” who see the benefit to themselves of a weak and crooked constitution? Let’s be brave and blame ourselves, instead of “how Europe underdeveloped Africa” nonsense.

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  1. There is nothing like ” a constitution that will stand a taste of time’ time changes.politicians must understand that the only way of coming up with a constitution is when they shelf their selfish ambitions and look at the common needs of a common man for the benefit of the country.

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    • @Tutu: we are on the same page on this one. Zambians love formulae like “a constitution to stand the test of time”. This is an excuse not to do anything as a constitution can never be perfect. Even the American one gets amendments and sometimes the Supreme Court interprets the law to give the flavour that can be stomached by the political majority on the bench. The Constitution should reflect the times and amended for the generation that has to live with it.

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  2. I think these are the things the general public needs to know if indeed we are to come up with a better constitution. A lot of things have gone wrong in governing system of country,hence the need for such knowledge.Thanks to the chief,in the end we will get there.

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  3. Yet this is the man Sata and nkandu luo hated so much. Thanks your highness you’re worthy more than any PF lunatic

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  4. Iyi kwena ni mfumu, nafi wisdom filemoneka, not baku mawa ampezeni , very blank and full caderism, wish I was sosala’s Kapaso then I can learn more, indeed niwe Shilubemba

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    • Awe am surprised, this is the first time I have ever see this guy called Jay Jay ever say anything positive about Zambia. Am sure this must be truly inspiring to even get the father of negativity on LT AKA Jay Jay say something good about something coming from a Zambian. Am impressed by the Chief, Can’t wait for the next installment

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  5. I think, like the rest of the people, am totally blown away by the free and independent insightful thinking of Chief Chitmukulu and just wondering what kind of Bemba education system, not necessary western, that created space for Mr Sosala to be so informed about the governance of the people. Is there a Bemba curriculum that all people in the Bemba royal family go through? I think if most of our chiefs understood issues as he has demonstrated, this country will be much better. I hope the Chief will in future share about what he is doing among his subjects to create a next generation of great independent thinkers. This is what Zambia and Africa needs. We can’t be defined by the West in all things we do.

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  6. Life is dynamic and varies from place to place. In our case we want to imitate the West where gunning of church goers is normal or Japan where late night dancing is a jailable offence. Chief these are theories only workable in Utopia. If it’s a race you would always come as run up. Keep on entertaining us! It’s good for blood pressure.

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  7. I agree with Ba Mwinelubemba. Tragedy in life will always be that the people with wisdom to make things better for all are usually on the side lines watching people of lesser minds designing and reshaping the world. I challenge anyone willing for a live debate on how Zambia can be completely transformed in 10 years and become one of the best countries in the world in 15 years.

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  8. True, please simplify the language in the constitution and avail it to schools as part of school curricula from grades 5 upwards

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  9. These facts are self-evident. Not only Legislators fail to make sense of some terms in the Constitution, but the Judiciary also, witness the contradictions in judgements concerning constitutional arguments.

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