President Lungu assents to the Constitutional Amendment Bill during the signing ceremony at Heroes Stadium on Tuesday, January 5,2016 -Pictures by THOMAS NSAMA

Dear Mr.President,

The Constitution of Zambia (Amendment ) Bill No.10 of 2019

I write to you as part of my efforts to defend the Constitution and safeguard your legacy. Mr.President, most emerging democracies in Africa are in regression. I beg you to uphold the Constitution by withdrawing the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 and accepting that having been elected twice to the office of President of Zambia, you are not eligible for a third term.

I have been a keen follower of constitutional developments in this country for the last thirty years and I can attest to the fact that you have done more for Zambia in this area than all your predecessors combined. This is a legacy worth defending. I will highlight the significance of what you did on 5th January 2016, when you signed the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No.2 of 2016, into law. Through the amendment, you introduced a transformational constitutional order, which all your predecessors failed to achieve.

President Kaunda.

The constitutional changes that occurred between 1964 and 1972, culminating in the Constitution of 1973,were all about undermining the will of the people and the rest of the institutions of government while vesting more power in the office of the President. President Kaunda rejected most of the progressive recommendations of the Chona Constitution Commission designed to limit the powers of the President. Today,we remember only the last few years of President Kaunda’s reign characterized by mismanagement and wastage and his spectacular defeat in the elections of 1991.

President Chiluba.

President Chiluba ignored the advice of the Mwanakatwe Constitution Commission to have the new Constitution approved by the people through a referendum and rejected all the recommendations intended to reduce the powers of the President and correspondingly increase the powers and stature of the Judiciary and the National Assembly. In the end, we had an amendment to the Constitution, which disadvantaged Dr.Kaunda, as a presidential candidate and increased President Chiluba’s chances of re-election in 1996. We remember President Chiluba for his quest for a third term and his questionable prosecution, all of which have overshadowed everything he did for this country including the tough decisions he made in liberalizing the economy.

President Mwanawasa.

President Mwanawasa delayed the implementation of the recommendations of the Mung’omba Constitution, which would have seen the powers of the President considerably reduced and other institutions of government strengthened.

President Banda.

Unlike you Mr.President, President Banda failed to complete the exercise that President Mwanawasa started. He failed to implement the recommendations of the Constitutional Conference,which would have addressed the concerns over the powers of the President in the country’s constitutional order and maintained the status quo.

President Sata.

You, on the other hand Mr.President, finished what President Sata started and in the process gave the people of Zambia what your predecessors had denied them. On 5th January 2016 when you signed the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill into law at the Heroes Stadium, you did something that perhaps no sitting African President had ever done out of his own free will. The ideal would have been to have a totally new constitution making. Be that as it may, you did what all your predecessors failed to do. You signed a law that reduced the powers of the President. I take the liberty to highlight some of the progressive changes that have come about, which can only be attributed to you.

Sovereign Authority.

There is clarity on the exercise of the sovereign authority of the Republic, which is derived from the people. This has been distributed among the various institutions of government and for the avoidance of doubt; the residue remains with the people who will exercise it though a referendum.

National Values and Principles.

The exercise of the sovereign authority of the people is no longer subject to the will of those in whom it is vested. We have national values of morality and ethics, patriotism and national unity, human dignity, equity, social justice and non-discrimination and sustainable development, which must be applied in the interpretation of the Constitution, enactment and interpretation of the law, and in the development and implementation of policies.

Political Parties.

The Courts have always treated political parties as private clubs with the consequence that they had little or no say on their internal affairs. This has changed: political parties are now subject to the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court. Whilst the country can be described as an emerging democracy, the Constitution as amended has brought about stability in political parties by addressing problems, which have plagued them over the years.

National Assembly.

Since Independence the National Assembly has been a rubber stamp, which endorsed the decisions of the President without question. You changed that. You strengthened the National Assembly by giving it oversight on the operations of the executive branch of government. The National Assembly now oversees your office in the discharge of the executive functions by ensuring equity in the distribution of national resources amongst the people of Zambia; appropriating funds for expenditure by State organs, State institutions, provincial administration, local authorities and other bodies; scrutinizing public expenditure, including defence, constitutional and special expenditure; approving public debt before it is contracted and approving international agreements and treaties before these are acceded to or ratified. You have turned the National Assembly into the people’s institution by empowering the citizens to petition the National Assembly to initiate the enactment, amendment or repeal of legislation; to comment on deliberations, statements or decisions of the National Assembly. The National Assembly is now mandated to facilitate public involvement in the legislative process.

Popular President.

President Mwanawasa was elected with less than 30% of the votes. You have changed that. Never again will anyone ascend to the office of the President after such a dismal performance at the polls. During your presidency the electoral system has changed. Effective 5th January 2016, elections to the office of President are conducted directly, under a majoritarian electoral system, where the winning candidate must receive more than fifty per cent of the valid votes cast. The presidential by-elections have been abolished. The people directly vote for the President and the Vice President. The Vice President will now be sworn into the office of President in the event of a vacancy, instead of performing the functions of that office until a new President is elected.

Judiciary.

You have transformed the Judiciary with the creation of the Constitutional Court with original and final jurisdiction to hear any matter relating to: the interpretation of the Constitution; violation or contravention of the Constitution; the President or the Vice President; election of the President; appeals relating to election of Members of Parliament and Councillors; and whether or not a matter falls within the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court. Its overriding responsibility is to protect and enforce the Constitution.

You have guaranteed the Judges both functional and financial independence. You have strengthened the security of tenure of Judges by requiring Judges to serve until attaining the age of seventy and retire early with full benefits upon attaining the age of sixty-five. You abolished the previous suspicious and non-transparent system, which enabled the President to strike deals with certain Judges who had reached retirement age to continue in office for a maximum period of seven years.

Devolved Government.

Since the reign of Dr.Kaunda there had been talk about decentralization of power in the country but there was no political will to do so. You have implemented that by introducing devolved government through the creation of provincial, district and ward administrations.

Values and Principles of Public Service.

You have strengthened the public service by prescribing the values and principles of public service, which include: maintenance and promotion of the highest standards of professional ethics and integrity; promotion of efficient, effective and economic use of national resources; effective, impartial, fair and equitable provision of public services; encouragement of people to participate in the process of policy making; prompt, efficient and timely response to people’s needs; commitment to the implementation of public policy and programmes; accountability for administrative acts; proactively providing the public with timely , accessible and accurate information; merit as the basis of appointment and promotion; adequate and equal opportunities for appointments, training and advancement of members of both gender and members of all ethnic groups; and representation of persons with disabilities in composition of the public service at all levels. These values and principles are to be applied in provision of services at national, provincial and local government levels; and by all State organs and State institutions.

Pension Benefits.

Until 2016, both public and private sector employees retired, in certain instances, without immediate payment of their benefits. You changed that. All employees, including public officers and constitutional office holders have the right to a pension benefit, which cannot be withheld or altered to the employee’s disadvantage. Pension benefits are now required to be reviewed periodically to take into account actuarial assessments and are exempt from tax. Furthermore, they have to be paid promptly and regularly. Where the pension benefits are not paid on a person’s last working day that person has to stop work but remain on the payroll, until payment of pension benefits based on the last salary is received.

Independent Service Commissions.

You have created independent commissions that are only subject to the Constitution and law: Judicial Service Commission, Civil Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission, Zambia Correctional Service Commission, Zambia Police Service Commission, Local Government Service Commission, Electoral Commission of Zambia, Human Rights Commission, Gender Equity and Equality Commission, Emoluments Commission, Police Public Complaints Commission and the Public Protector. They are independent because they are not subject to the control of any person or authority in the performance of their functions. They are required to act with dignity, professionalism, propriety and integrity; and be non-partisan and impartial in the exercise of their authority.

These are all developments that can be attributed to you. You iniated them and you received the support of all political parties in the National Assembly because they were progressive and for the benefit of the Republic. They would not have passed if they were not. Unfortunately, because the country is polarized these achievements are buried in partisan noises.

That the people have not yet felt or seen the benefits of the new constitution order and revamped institutions is not the failure of the institutions but the people appointed to these institutions. This is the best constitutional order we have ever had since 1899.It is a legacy to be proud of and worth protecting.

Unfortunately Mr. President, the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment ) Bill No.10 of 2019 seeks to either undermine or destroy these achievements. I have examined it and I can state without hesitation that there is no single provision that is progressive; of benefit to the people; or which improves Zambia’s democratic credentials or gains we have made so far. The opposite is the case.

Areas of Focus.

Mr. President the focus of your government should be to familiarize the people on the content of the Constitution as amended, which amendments were made in their name and for their benefit. The second area of focus should be on planning for another referendum to complete the constitutional process by enacting into law a new Bill of Rights and Article 79 of the Constitution, which are in line with the rest of the Constitution.

Mr. President, a Constitution is not a Cabinet Memorandum, which canbe changed at any time for any reason or for none. Four years is too short a period in which to revisit the Constitution as amended in 2016. The only way the Constitution(Amendment) Bill No.10 of 2019 .is likely to be explained, if not withdrawn, by followers of constitutional developments, is that you never believed in the Bill amending the Constitution you signed into law on 5th January 2016.That you signed it to boost your chances of re-election in 2016 and you want to change it again to further your pursuit for a third term in office in 2021.

Mr. President you have a good legacy worth protecting rather than destroy by the quest for third term in office.

Mr.President, having said that and whatever you decide, I place my faith in the Zambian people ,whom you should not ignore or underestimate. They are smart. If they were not, I have no doubt President Kaunda would have won the 1991 elections and probably ruled until 2001;President Chiluba would have stood for election for the third term in 2001.President Banda would have won the 2011 election; and Mr.Sata would not have been President and you would never have ascended to the highest and most powerful political office in the land.

Mr. President, the measure of a true leader that loves his country is determined by the choice he makes when his interests are in conflict with those of the people he swore to serve. Your predecessors may not have delivered on the Constitution but when their interests and those of the people were not aligned, they respected the will of the people and settled for what was in the best interest of the Republic. President Kaunda became the first incumbent President of an African English speaking country to gracefully hand over power to another President through the ballot; President Chiluba respected the people’s position on his bid for a third term and ultimately the Constitution; and President Banda, the second incumbent President to lose power in an election organized on his watch, followed the example set by President Kaunda in 1991,and gracefully handed over the reigns of power to President Sata.

Many analysts say that what we have is not the best Constitution given the manner it came about. Be that as it may, one thing is certain, Zambia is constitutionally better today than it has ever been.

Mr. President, I beseech you ,do not take Zambia backwards.

Respectfully

John Sangwa

Cc: The Speaker of the National Assembly
President – Movement for Multi-Party Democracy
President- United Party for National Development
President – Forum for Democratic Development
Independent Members of Parliament

[Read 3,621 times, 1 reads today]
Loading...

38 COMMENTS

  1. I wish Edgar could stop associating himself with thugs like Kaiser Zulu and drug dealers like Valden Findlay. He should not have stolen money from a client. Remember, he got disbarred from practicing as a lawyer!! That is his legacy

    14

    3
    • Is the writer the same lawyer representing LAZ and Mwitwa or Mweetwa in court over Bill no. 10?
      If that is the case, this nigga gotta recuse himself from the pettition because he sounds:
      1) prejudicial
      b) contemptuous
      3) unprofessional
      d) misinformed
      5) compromised
      f) misaligned
      7) lost
      h) delusional
      9) political
      j) delirious, naive and hallucinating.
      I thank you.

      12

      27
    • Wht has become of John Sangwa? He’s in court already at the behest of the Law Association of Zambia. Even ECL won’t know wht to make of this. Wht does John Sangwa believe in?

      5

      9
    • There is no nation in the world that has or will have best constitution in the land. Even the US, UK, JPN, German… etc all have certain parts of the constitution which are flawed.

      The constitution is always a Working-Progress. [We] must stop having these assertions that we will get everything correct, right and satisfy everyone. That said, it should not stop us from addressing matters at hand.

      One man’s meat is another man’s poison!!! Or, One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
      One man’s {Idea, Concept, Plan, Notion, Theory} that what is (+)agreeable to one – may be (-)distasteful to another man
      The writer has pointed important issues and history…!!

      18

      3
    • Ba Edgar read this, it’s full of praise and respect. Let Dora read it aloud in cabinet meeting, she is a good reader.
      I don’t like reading too long articles, but I read this one, almost everything, I jumped about KK and Mwanawasa, I respect them.
      Sounds like RB was the worst.
      It is sad PF have no candidate for 2021, so have no option but to raape the constitution.

      12

      1
    • But the writer also contradicts himself. By saying he respects the fact that ECL brought in the ConCourt, and yet he does not respect the ruling of the same court. As all remember, the ConCourt declared ECL eligible for 2021, but he is asking him not to stand and calling it a 3rd Term.
      Does he respect the law or only when it suits him.
      He also says there’s nothing good about Bill no. 10, yet we remember him for abandoning his client at the literal 11th hour on the 13th day of the Presidential petition which he failed to prosecute within 14days. Bill no. 10 seeks to extend the petition period to 30 days to give him more time next time around. Is he saying even that is not good?
      It also clarifies other Grey areas like what happens to a sitting President if petitioned which was one of…

      8

      4
    • It also clarifies other Grey areas like what happens to a sitting President if petitioned which was one of his many preliminary issues that stole his time.
      Don’t all those refinements make it better than the current one????

      4

      2
    • I’m glad Mr Sangwa is finally acknowledging that we now have modern & progressive Constitution despite his strong criticism in Zambia Reports article of 20 July 2015 before amendment and on QFM radio 16 February 2016 after amendment that it only represented desires & wishes of politicians & not the people. I’m happy President didn’t listen to him then. He sounds more objective now but I don’t think whole of Bill #10 is bad. There are some good things there. How I wish Mr Sangwa was this objective & broke down things for us the way he has now when we were dealing with Constitution and Referendum in 2016. We would all be smiling now. Bill # 10 is nothing compared to what was achieved in 2016 & what could have been achieved with Referendum. Just like 1991 2016 will be important…

      5

      1
    • Lungu is a common thief who doesn’t care about his legacy. He cares more about expanding his own power and making a fortune for himself at the expense of the poor Zambian people. I doubt he even knew what he was signing in 2016, as there was clear evidence that he had not read the document ( amended constitution). While this letter is in good faith, it’ll only fall on deaf ears. Again Lungu has no integrity to protect, nor is he interested in a legacy for himself. Only way to save Zambia from this corrupt guy is make sure all Zambians, all opposition parties, unite to vote against this incompetent, unpatriotic, corrupt, clueless guy called Lungu. Because another 5 years of this self-serving guy in office will be a terrible tragedy for Zambia, and will spell doom for our beloved nation…

      2

      2
    • … He needs to lose in a landslide in 2021, so it becomes hard for him and his cronies to rig the election.

      3

      0
    • ‘Unlike you Mr.President, President Banda failed to complete the exercise that President Mwanawasa started. He failed to implement the recommendations of the Constitutional Conference,which would have addressed the concerns over the powers of the President in the country’s constitutional order and maintained the status quo.’

      Oh, Mr Sangwa! You have omitted the fact that the UPND and the PF walked out of parliament to stop that amendment!

      0

      0
    • Sangwa has contradicted himself on the respect he seems to avail to the ConCourt which court ruled unequivocally that ECL is eligible to stand because this 2021 is his constitutional 2nd Term.

      By abrogating that fact, he has also contravened to itemize all the good provisions Bill 10 would bring in to improve the Construction Act 2016 (as amended).

      That’s what happens when you forget that the Constitution is like the Bible. They both build on each other chapter after chapter. You can never be a great Constitutional Scholar by piece meal readership, the same way you can’t be a great Biblical Scholar by picking and choosing scripture.

      A holistic view and approach is what is needed for functionality. Bill 10 seems to harmonize that and detractors are just ashamed because posterity…

      1

      0
    • Continued…

      Bill 10 seems to harmonize that and detractors are just ashamed because posterity will judge them for having opposed and not participated when they had a chance.

      We can chew gum and walk at the same time. ECL needs to move forward as the smart people of the Zambian Enterprise have already spoken through the National Dialogue Forum.

      Tweende webo Lungu … tweende Yama!!!

      Epo mpelele nebo.

      BRM

      2

      0
  2. This is wise Advice but can Lungu listen for the first time? Lungu has breached the Constitution so many times and Amendment Bill No.10 of 2019, push for a Third Term and blocking of the Impeachment Bill are breaches that will bring his Downfall. Associating with Valden Findlay the Mandrax Dealer is another mistake Lungu has made. The writing is on the Wall.

    7

    5
  3. This is very genuine and good advice without prejudice. But our humble leader is so drunk with power that he cant listen to his colleagues from the law fraternity but can only listen to Findley.

    10

    2
    • You mean your **&____*** what has he ever achieved in his life? Atleast ECL he IS A president who was voted by millions.

      0

      4
  4. The constitution of the Republic of Zambia in the Preamble says, “WE, THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA (A LOT WORDS HERE) DO HEREBY SOLEMNLY ADOPT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”. Does it say Edgar Lungu gave us the Constitution, a big NO. President Lungu has at no time given us a constitution, we gave ourselves the current constitution the only problem is his minions manipulated it.

    Other than this the article is great.

    4

    0
  5. A great write up!
    I bet even some PF die hards had no clue of what they have actually scored in this regard as highlighted by the learned SC.
    For once bwana President, listen to your intellectual side and heed the learned SC’s advise. Forget your yes bwana advisers just for once.

    10

    0
  6. Very good analysis and perhaps timely advice. Question: Why is the ruling party not part of the CC list? And what about the Green Party and others? But I I guess it was John’s prerogative not to and got to respect that.

    5

    1
  7. This is an excellent read..I didn’t realise the significance of what President Lungu did in 2016.I’m reading some stuff about the constitution for the first time here.He actually has a great legacy .I hope he will heed advise and be known as the first Zambian President to approve a more democratic constitution. Well done Mr.Sangwa ..if you are able to can you tell us what else about the amendment bill no.10 we should be wary of? It’s nice when someone breaks down technical things in a way that a lay person can understand.We need the government to take the responsibility of educating the masses on the constitution in the same way preachers explain the bible every Sunday.

    6

    1
    • You need to take responsibility and read the constitution yourself!! Just like the Bill of Rights and now Bill no. 10, you prefer to hear it from politicians and their agents like Sangwa. That is the more reason why the west is better than us, their citizens have a high level of civic responsibility than people like you!!

      6

      1
    • No one is going to read a long document that is hard to understand. Those who are in the know how, would do well to explain the implications of laws written in archaic legal jargon to the masses..perhaps these Bills should be written in our mother tongues so that we can understand. Its important that the public understands laws that are written in their name.Don’t say “constitution of Zambia “if its only PHD holders that can understand. A fisherman in Kariba should also be able to understand it with ease.

      5

      1
    • I won’t take that my guy!! You can download a copy from the Parliament website and read it. I haven’t read the whole doc. word for word but I have taken interest in the critical points and understood them. Eg The appointment or dismissal of a Judge. The old constitution gave all that power to the president (that’s why Fred Mmembe and his hyenas in the cartel exploited Mwanawasa on this aspect) whereas ECL cannot fire a judge today without the JCC. Problem is we are a lazy lot who thrive on rumours and lies-that’s why social media is such a hit in Zambia.

      3

      4
    • @Zambian Citizen .Firstly I’m not a guy I’m a woman.(ex-female UNZA student hence the name ex-moma). You and I can probably read the constitution but you and I do not make up the majority of Zambians. The constitution should be something any ordinary Zambian should find easy to understand. There are reasons people don’t read -one of them is our people are in survival mode(effects of poverty).Where one does only the bare minimum to survive.Reading copious documentation unfortunately may be seen as a luxury especially whist overcoming 8-12 hours of load shedding, a sick relative at UTH who is not receiving adequate medical care, a malnourished child and a Chinese boss who is threatening to fire you..all whilst admiring the $1million Fire truck that raced down the potholed street to put…

      1

      3
    • Please, mama. Just today we had the first day of loadshedding in our area this week and it was 4 hours. We now have district hospitals and don’t have to go to UTH for everything. Not being able to read such documents is down to personal responsibility. Tell me, how does everyone bring up these problems yet they drink everyday with 2 girlfriends?? When was the last time you were here?? Because potholes are no longer there as even Kanyama has tarred roads!! Like I said, you are fed rubbish by opposition clowns hell bent on bringing down a legitimately elected GRZ.

      3

      1
    • @Zambian Citizen.. Its so nice to hear from you that there is not a single pothole in Zambia.Well done to the people responsible for maintaining roads. Zambia is not divided into parties…we are just all Zambians who want the best for our country.Just because someone doesn’t agree with you shouldn’t make you brand them as an opposition clown.Not even two siblings in a family are exactly the same.Why do you expect everyone to agree with you? Whatever divides us weakens us. Those of us who are learned should take the responsibility of educating those who arent on matters of importance.Being snobbish and expecting everyone to download the constitution won’t do.AIDS is/was fought by mass public education. Before elections people campaign to educate..like wise the common man should be…

      0

      0
  8. TITF, your coments are always in the negative y? the writter has raised valid points. lets support him. good stuff worth reading and action reqiured. great sense indeed.

    1

    0
    • The writer gotta let parliament deliberate. Constitutions suit the only constant phenomenons in the world, vis CHANGE.

      Come think of it, in one tune, double h vows never to support Bill no. 10, in the hype of things, various progressive and responsible institutions are submitting their views into the process as we speak; then Sangwa opens up his mouth and in his preamble makes a very political statement saying ECL is not eligible for 2021 polls. Then he makes another s.i.l.l.y statement suggesting that the Constitution ought to stagnate. But the most stupid thing is, he has dragged the AG, POTROZ and Speaker to court over the issues and still making wild statements. Civil behavior requires that Sangwa i) awaits Courts ruling ii) allow parliament to do their job, period.

      3

      0
  9. Boss, remove the ear plugs off your ears. I know Bowman’s voice can penetrate your ear plugs but is he a guy you can surely listen to. I think Lets go with John Sangwa, I think he is giving sound advice. Try to win on this one, since there is a failure on all other issues.

    3

    0
  10. Didn’t even bother to finish reading, instead the comment from my nigga Thorn 1.1 sums it up. John Sangwa has been paid a lot of money to be against Bill no. 10, so none of his comments or analysis will be objective. Such people vigorously decampaigned the Bill of Rights and called it a PF move. When objective people today speak of the independence of the Judiciary, they say the courts are controlled by PF cadres. For me Bill no. 10 is objective and our representatives in the National Legislature who I personally voted for will handle it and polish it. I don’t know whose interests Sangwa is representing because the money he got belongs to someone or a group with no conscious for my children except their personal interest.

    6

    6
  11. I like the issues highlighted by Mr Sangwa but disagree with him on the 3rd term assert. Following the constitution should not be based on sentiments but integrity of heart. The current constitution stipulates what constitutes a term of presidency and Mr Sangwa should accept that also. President standing does not guarantee him winning the election. May we need clarification on how the current president is excluded in the meaning of a presidential term so that everyone understands how to apply the current constitution.

    0

    1
  12. John Sangwa, these out of court manoeuvres might be misconstrued as an admission that the LAZ Court action is frivolous

    7

    2
  13. On KK……”The constitution changes that occurred between 1964 and 1972 culminating in the constitution of 1973,was all about undermining the will of the people and the rest of the institutions of government while vesting power in the office of the President.”

    Mr.Sangwa,your understanding of the genesis of Zambia’s current constitutional/legal as well as economic history is impeccable.It all began with KK after independence and successive Presidents after him followed suit because the constitution of 1973 virtually made the President a ‘god’.If KK had been selfless after independence like George Washington had been with his Philadelphia Constitution Convention which birthed the current US Constitution,Zambia will have been a Shining star both democratically and economically…

    1

    0
  14. both democratically and economically worldover.The constitutional fundamentals laid by the founding father(s) will continue to haunt Zambia.President Lungu was bold to enact the current progressive constitution (despite the NO campaign on the Bill of Rights which would have guaranteed every Zambian of their primary,secondary and tertiary rights) and thus would have appreciated if Mr.Sangwa had made a submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee and challenge them why amendment Bill no.10 is in bad taste.In this way posterity will judge him just like all former Zambian Presidents have been harshly judged by posterity as regards the national constitution.

    1

    0

Comments are closed.