A civil organisation based in Lusaka has joined in calls on the President Edgar Lungu to reconsider the contentious grade 12 requirement for persons aspiring to be councillors.
Hope for Human Rights, Executive Director Smart Chanda says like other concerned parties on the issue, President Lungu needs to revisit the clause which he termed as discriminatory.
Mr. Chanda in as much as his HHR wants a new constitution, government must be mindful of the geographical setup of the country and the needs of the dwellers therein.
“It is clear from the debates going on that the grade twelve requirement for persons aspiring to become Councillors has not been well received and is in fact looked at to be segregative especially to our rural dwellers where it is not easy to find a Grade Twelve (12) School Leaver with a Certificate and willing to take up Councillorship, ‘ he said.
In a statement to ZANIS in Lusaka, today, Mr Chanda says further worrying is that the process which approved the Grade Twelve (12) Certificate School Requirement is believed to have involved submissions from the Traditional and Civic Leaders, the Church and other Groupings and further went through the District, Province, Sector Groups and National Conventions.
“The question is: how did this requirement go through all these stages without any of those people representatives opposing it?, ” he asked.
The HHR has sensed danger in the way the country wants to be formulating laws in this land, he said adding that it must be appreciated that Parliament still remains the legislative organ and it is very important that we allow this organ to debate the submissions coming from any organ or section before they are made into laws.
Mr. Chanda said If the debates were generated at the village level through the Traditional, Civic and Church Leaders, wards and constituencies, there would have been much consideration unlike where the Urban Dwellers initiated the process, took it to the districts and later concluded it themselves at the national level.
“We appreciate the roles played by Civil Societies like ourselves, but it must always be appreciated that at the end of the process, Parliamentarians debate and where possible formulate the right submissions into law, ” he said.
The civil organisation has thanked Republican President Edgar Lungu for having assented to the Constitution Bill which has even accorded the people to now look through the New Law and point out what they feel does not work well for them.
It is HHR”s belief that the President shall quickly use the possible avenues available to reverse the Grade Twelve (12) requirement for Councillors as this does not serve the interest of the majority Rural Dwellers and may just mean no representation at councillor level in a numerous rural wards.
We are aware that other groups will still condemn the move to reverse this but like in any other democracy, there will always be divergent views but it is always incumbent upon the Governor to govern.
Recently , the civil society raised concerns on the grade twelve requirement several Civic Leaders in Mkushi District appealed to President Edgar Lungu to revoke the clause that requires the grade 12 qualification as requirement for ward, parliament and Presidential candidature.
Chlata Ward Councillor James Nshimba (MMD) sayings President Lungu should consider revoking the controversial clause as it is discriminatory.
Mr. Nshimba said there is need to consider that the position of Councillor in particular should reflect the choice of the common people without regard for academic qualification.
The insistence on Grade 12 qualifications would lead to domination of leadership by the elite, he reasoned.
Zambia Council for Social Development Executive Secretary Lewis Mwape says the law requiring aspiring councillors to possess a full grade twelve school certificate is ‘overambitious’.
Mr. Mwape complained in an interview with ZANIS that high illiteracy levels in rural areas will make it difficult to find aspiring councillors with grade twelve certificates.
Mr. Mwape said the position of councillors in rural areas is usually left to the less educated and wondered how grade twelves will be wooed to contest in such areas.
He suggested that parliament should have lowered the requirement for councillors to grade nine level and not twelve.