Letter to President Edgar Lungu
Choice greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Name above all names!
Your Excellency, I am compelled to react to part of your statement in Kasama yesterday. On Tuesday 15th December 2015 during the evening news, the ZNBC reported your speech in Kasama, whereby you declared the following, inter alia, that “under the new Constitution, when it comes I shall sign it with eyes closed because that is what Zambians wanted”. As a very concerned Zambian I was startled and alarmed to hear my President pledge to sign this solemn document with eyes closed without assigning a plausible reason. You may have justifiable reasons but you did not state them.
Your Excellency, the following are some of the reasons why you must keep your eyes open as you read and meditate before you sign the Constitution:
1.NO TIMELY BOLD POLICY POSITION DURING THE SECOND READING OF THE BILLS: There are contentious issues in National Assembly Bills N.A.B. Numbers 16 and 17 over which your Emissary to Parliament, the Honourable Minister of Justice Hon Ngosa Simbyakula, DID NOT OR NEGLECTED to present a policy statement during the Second Reading stages of the said Bills. Surprisingly, he had submitted to the Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Gender Matters and Child Affairs, that your Executive had no position on the Constitution. A bold policy statement during the Second Reading would have assisted MPs to focus on and debate salient issues before voting.
2.PRESIDENT’S CONSTITUTIONAL OBLIGATIONS: Article 44 of the current Constitution obliges you, Mr President, to protect, administer and execute the Constitution. As the Fountain of Justice you MUST NOT close your eyes to demands for justice, for example as demanded by at least six opposition political parties regarding the 1000 threshold of supporters for a presidential candidate (Heritage Party is on record at Parliament against this provision). You have arbitrarily rejected the grievance out of hand without a hearing. Justice is one of the pillars of democracy, and you are under oath to administer and execute justice without closing your eyes when citizens petition you.
3.CHRISTIAN NATION DECLARATION: Mr President, you recently publicly reiterated and affirmed that Zambia is a Christian Nation. Consequently I urge you, with your eyes open and in serious meditation as a believer, to examine the New Preamble by comparing the following declarations in the said Preamble:
i. “DECLARE the Republic a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion”.
ii. “RECOGNISE AND UPHOLD the multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural character of our Nation….”
I petition you to personally make a public policy pronouncement on these two provisions and clarify the need for the second declaration, especially the motive of this extended verbiage which seems to counter the first one.On this issue, my President, DO NOT emulate Pontius Pilate.
4.CITIZENSHIP: Please expound and clarify your policy regarding the following questions:
i. On the Wholesale and Ambiguous Declaration of Dual Citizenship: please clarify the following. A Zambian named Edgar acquires citizenship of a country called Zombie. War breaks out between Zambia and Zombie. For which country must Edgar fight? If Edgar chooses to fight for Zombie against Zambia, will he be amenable to treason charges in Zambia since he has breached his allegiance or loyalty to Zambia, or will he get away scot-free? Will you remove the treason offences from the current penal statutes?
ii. Obligations of Commander-in-Chief: As Commander-in-Chief, what safeguards do you envisage in the execution of this “dual citizenship”? As an alleged “multi-racial” country literary every race on planet earth has a right to lay claim to their inheritance of Zambia, even those coming from countries that promote terrorism. Even in the Bible you find a clear distinction between local or indigenous people and foreigners. Before you assent please make clear these distinctions which are intended to assure the survival of Zambians and to safeguard the security and sovereignty of the State. I petition you to facilitate such a consultative forum before you assent.
iii. Compensation of Citizens: Since citizens are obliged to defend the Constitution why should they be compensated for carrying out citizens’ obligations? Who will fight to defend Zambia if invaded by Martian forces if compensation be a condition precedent to national service? Is this a bribe enshrined in the Constitution? Will you do the same for, say, Whistle Blowers?
5. Land: God has stopped creating new lands. So it is a priority issue much, much more than 50 % and should take precedence at the beginning of the Constitution; we are Zambians because of land; our chiefs are chiefs because of land and its peoples; citizens should sacrifice to die for their land! Clause 262 (1) states inter alia, “land shall be held, used and managed in accordance with the following principles (c) recognition of indigenous cultural rites”. This is good; but how do you recognise ‘indigenous rites’ without recognising the actual indigenous tribes? The 73 tribes must be recognised in the Constitution. That said, Mr President, how do you intend to protect the indigenous populace, now that you are about to declare Zambia a ‘multi-racial’ nation, without any restrictions or clear and unambiguous definition of this declaration? With your open eyes please visit Mungule chiefdom and comment on what is happening there. The Nkomeshya chiefdom and maybe other areas are not spared. We have had the British people (our former colonisers) for many years before independence and after but we have not experienced this “Scramble for Zambia” as is now happening under the schemes of some of your so-called investors. Your Excellency, I petition you to facilitate such a consultative forum before you assent to the Constitution.
we have not experienced this “Scramble for Zambia” as is now happening under the schemes of some of your so-called investors
6. Political Parties:
a. Why must tax payers pay for private clubs called ‘political parties’? There is no justification. Since you have emphasised the need to reduce costs, is this not a contradiction? Please explain because your Minister did not raise this in his Second Reading statement and many such contradictions.
b. Why must a political party that has not filled in some administrative forms be dissolved? Is this not a breach or abridgement of the right to freedom of assembly and association already granted under Article 21 of the current Constitution?
c. What is the rationale for the 1000 threshold as presidential supporters? What does it prove if you have 1000 supporters when filing your candidature? Does this guarantee that those 1000 will vote for you? What will stop those with money to buy supporters the same way they buy votes? Why complicate our hard won democracy? Does it mean that promoters of 50 % plus one vote have no confidence in their scheme? Just leave it to voters to decide instead of creating artificial road blocks.
7. Defence and Security: literary nothing has been said about the continued existence and survival of our nation and state. The right time is now when the Constitution is being considered and before assent. Are you, Mr President, going to allow political parties to come into government with parallel Defence and Security structures as has happened in recent times?
8. SOURCE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS FOR POLITICAL PARTIES:
a. This is a loophole where those with money, especially foreign interest groups, launder money to control which party wins elections. Beneficiaries of such dirty money become captive presidents. What is your position on this before you assent? Meditate with open eyes.
b. I am concerned about the First Family. What measures have you put in to ensure that our First Lady’s integrity is not compromised even if she may have “good intentions”? Better now than later during contentious litigation. The 2016 election has been imminent and you know it. Ignore the ECZ proclamation of an official campaign period; I contend that this has no force of law, otherwise those with devious minds can commit election offences with impunity. Let us protect the First Lady who may mean well, yet she is clearly on an election campaign mission. Do not listen to the usual praise-singers who are praising her; they will disappear as soon as they smell trouble.
9. MEDIA FREEDOM: this is a joke and you must surely know it Mr President! This is 50 years after independence and we are still quarrelling over access to public media. We have gone back to days of the One-Party State. Public media news used to be KK, Central Committee, Ministers, Party cadres, in that order and then a little about the rest. Today it is the same.
10. COMBINING THE REFERENDUM WITH THE 2016 ELECTIONS: Need I say more? This is another questionable scheme which must not be carried out. Do not take advantage of the majority uninformed and illiterate citizens! It is deceptive to have a “One answer referendum” when responding to serious constitutional issues such as amending Part III. Remember the literacy levels of most of our people; remember the one-sided coverage of news by special interest groups. Remember your Ministers preamble during the Second Reading which contradicts his “single answer” theory.
As you may be aware, Your Excellency, it is NEITHER AUTOMATIC NOR MANDATORY for you to assent to a Bill in the form it has been conveyed to you. The process requires careful examination and even consultation before assenting. Appending the Presidential signature completes the act of enactment! I appeal that you revisit your decision to sign with closed eyes, meaning without serious examination of the contents and/or even complaints. It is a serious and solemn constitutional duty for you to undertake with all your faculties at full throttle.
Last but not least, Your Excellency, if you are serious about your clarion call for unity, you should facilitate a national indaba so that we can engage one another as one family and seek to find a way out of the new ‘frontier’ you have designed for us since the reasons I have listed are NOT exhaustive. But as of now I am mainly concerned with your intention to assent to our Constitution blind-folded! Please revise this decision and engage us. Many of us mean well for our country. As a citizen I am at your beck and call and personally ready to clarify and/or amplify any issue raised should you deem this necessary. The nation is at an unclear cross roads; and yet your decision is a grave matter deserving serious attention. Your Excellency, unity can never be achieved by pronouncements; actions speak louder than words.
May the Lord richly bless you and give you the wisdom to consider the matters in the national interest. Peace be with you and your family.
ONE OF MANY CONCERNED ZAMBIANS
[16TH DECEMBER 2015]
As this is a matter of public interest I shall make this paper available to the general public after delivery to your office. Your copy is the only one distributed for now. Other copies will be released a reasonable time after delivery to your office.