By Dokowe Patriot
It is regrettably sad that the delegates at the ongoing National Dialogue Forum have chosen to extend and waste quality resources and time on a petty issue like the Christian Nation Clause that deserves no amendment because it’s a non contentious issue and the NDF was formed to work on the lacunas not create new one.
The proposed amendments are in the preamble and article 8 of the Republican Constitution;
They want to KEEP this:
‘DECLARE the Republic a Christian Nation while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion;’ and this Subsection 3 of Article 4: ‘The Republic is a unitary, indivisible, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-party democratic State’.
But AMEND this:
‘RECOGNISE AND UPHOLD the multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural character of our Nation and our right to manage our affairs and resources sustainably in a devolved system of governance;’
to something like this:
RECOGNISE AND UPHOLD the multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-cultural character of our Nation and our right to manage our affairs and resources sustainably in a devolved system of governance;
and then EMBED this:
‘Zambia is a Multi-racial Christian Nation’
to Article 8.
Article 8 of our Constitution which is under NATIONAL VALUES, PRINCIPLES and ECONOMIC POLICIES reads:
‘The National values and principles are -a. morality and ethics; b. patriotism and national unity; c. democracy and constitutionalism; d. human dignity, equity, social justice, equality and non-discrimination; e. good governance and integrity; and f. sustainable development.’
I fail to understand how Zambia is a multi-racial Christian nation should come in or were it applies to the National Values, Principles and Economic Policies of Zambia. By adding this and leaving parts highlighted above would create a lacuna.
In as much as Zambia was declared a Christian Nation by FTJ, the constitution guaranteed protection and equal rights to everyone and anyone regardless of their religious affiliation because the constitution contained this important clause ‘The Republic is a unitary, indivisible, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-party democratic State’ and this in the preamble ‘RECOGNISE AND UPHOLD the multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural character of our Nation and our right to manage our affairs and resources sustainably in a devolved system of governance’. These two clauses atleast recognize that Zambia is a multi-religious country and it is the principle through which it was founded upon.
While most people may think that a democracy is about the majority’s wishes it is not and at no point has democracy ever been about majority rule. Imagine this: if a majority of parliamentarians one day decided that women should be deprived of their right to vote and to work, and all voted in favour would that be democratic? Of course not, because the point of democracy is about protection of the minorities, the non entities-those whose opinion seems to not matter or the voiceless. Majoritarianism (tyranny of the majority) is what is happening at NDF and not democracy, for if it was democratic the NDF delegates would have resolved to make Zambia a state with no preferred or official religion even though there would still be bias treatment of religions. An example of majoritarianism in Zambia is when under KK the One Party State in 1972 was created, the architects felt they were bound by some patriotic duty.
How they unanimously agreed to exclusively maintain the Christian Nation Declaration Clause in the Preamble, how they resolved to have the subsidiary multi-religious nomenclature in the preamble of the constitution be deleted and embed the Zambia is a multi-racial Christian nation is questionable. According to the National Dialogue (Constitution, Electoral Process, Public Order and Political Parties) bill, 2019, the forum consists of among others 2 representatives each from the:- Islamic Council of Zambia and Islamic Supreme Council of Zambia. How in the world would members of a different religion say yes to the agreed amendments that are segregative? No way, unless they have no representation at NDF. Zambia is not a nation of Christians alone but of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, etc. Any group of people, law or document that says Zambia is a ‘Christian’ Nation is not only wrong but selfish and foolish. Why should a national document that promises and guarantees the equal right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion favour or promote one religion over others? Isn’t this inconsistency? Why can’t we have a religious neutral constitution?
The amendment of the current Christian nation clause will only make Zambia a more theocratic nation with a bias towards Christianity. The Preamble which is not law is being used to by some of those in the Christian community to discriminate against those belonging to different religions, and the non-religious. To what effect this will compound will be upon the mercy of individual Zambian Christians, just as it currently is, and upon the mercy of another no one should depend.
Should the proposed Christian nation amendment to the preamble see the light of day, it will justify holding those of different religions and the non religious in high contempt.
In conclusion I know the preamble isn’t law and I would careless if it was changed but embedding the ‘Zambia id Multi-racial Christian Nation’ clause wherever and however in Article 8 will have repercussions that may necessitate the amendment of the constitution any time from now. As a Zambian, it’s my legal right and duty to defend the constitution against anyone or group of people who wish to amend laws that are of a selfish nature. This article is no way meant to undermine the National Dialogue Forum.