The National Dialogue Forum’s mischief of rewriting the Republican Constitution is slowly backfiring.
Edgar Lungu’s wishes are now even being questioned or rejected by his own party, the PF, even if it is for purposes of laundering its image among alert citizens of our country who are disgusted by these manoeuvres to manipulate the constitution.
Long before its birth, by arrogance of numbers in Parliament, citizens rejected the NDF but Edgar and his minions, first among them justice minister Given Lubinda, went to great lengths defending it.
Just like this Constitution Amendment Bill, Attorney General Likando Kalaluka pushed in that Bill which created that sham – the NDF.
Our fears, unfortunately, are evident in the Bill pushed by one Kalaluka.
Indeed, what is contained in this Bill is retrogressive. The provisions in the Bill are so imperfect making the 2016 Constitution amendment seem progressive albeit its lacunae!
And today PF secretary general Davies Mwila should be telling us, “The NDF was not a PF gathering. It was a sitting of the people, the Zambian people!”
He further says, “The proposal to change the electoral system for election of members of parliament under Article 47(2) by the inclusion of a mixed member proportional representational system to include marginalised groups such as the disabled and women is supported. This will foster greater inclusion and provide a platform for marginalised voices in our community to participate in governance…. The proposal to amend the system on voting of the President to include the possibility of forming of a coalition government is not supported. In that regard, Articles 101 and 102 are to remain as they appear in the current Constitution. The President should draw his or her mandate directly from the majority of the people…. The proposals to amend Articles 112 and include a new Article 117A so as to create the office of Deputy Minister is not supported. The PF government is still committed to a lean government…. The proposal to amend Article 116 by the inclusion of a new sub article 4 to entitle ministers to continue holding office until a new government is elected is supported. This will enable the Executive government to continue performing its functions without any lacuna or disruption…. The proposal to amend Article 127 by the inclusion of the Chief Justice as a member of the Constitutional Court is supported and by this the Central Committee agrees that the two courts should continue to exist as separate and independent courts under the leadership of the Chief Justice. Patriotic Front wishes to call out and shame those politically inclined and hired civil society voices and armchair critics parading themselves as activists and opinion leaders without any mandate from anyone whatsoever and who are earning a living from misrepresenting PF’s position with regard to the NDF resolutions to give the Zambian people a break. Enough of your lies, falsehoods and fake news.”
It is clear that they have been shamed big time. The exposure of their real intentions in every move of theirs has brought them to their knees, to a point of surrender. This is clear from Davies’ tone. They should not cheat Zambians that their pronouncements have anything to do with a careful reflection and discourse among the PF plotters. No. Nearly, all PF MPs and surrogates were assembled to defend their case at the NDF.
And their case was the outcome, the baby they’re trying to now disown. They did their master’s bidding with tenacity and a viciousness of a hungry hyena. The PF’s moves on the constitution can be likened to a vicious attack of hungry hyenas who start eating their victim while it is alive and even running.
Now they are trying to launder their mage. It will not work because it is badly damaged. No amount of posturing will save the PF.
The PF drove the NDF process with much arrogance and bloated conceit, bolstered by their leader who postures as being a very good lawyer. The 2016 Constitution he assented to with his eyes closed at Heroes Stadium, and now the bogus NDF, liquidation processes are instructive about the self-acclaimed lawyer.
We therefore fully support the Law Association of Zambia Council position that Edgar Lungu’s bill is retrogressive.
We note that the LAZ Council has observed that a number of proposed provisions in the Bill do not further the development of law as an instrument of social order, social justice, and as an essential element in the growth of society.
LAZ Council says, “Unfortunately, there are a number of proposed provisions in the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill, 2019 which do little to advance but in fact erode the gains that we achieved through the Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 towards social justice, social order and positive growth of our democratic society, hence are retrogressive. LAZ has understood the current constitutional legislative process to be aimed at refining problematic provisions of the current Constitution and not to reverse progressive provisions of the Constitution.”
The Council itemized some of the retrogressive provisions as: (i) the reintroduction of the position of deputy ministers which will only serve to divert meagre resources from important social sectors to fund the cost of introducing and maintaining deputy ministers; (ii) the provision creating Parliament but leaving the important task of stipulating the number of members of parliament to an Act of Parliament, essentially depriving We the People, the power to decide the number of our representatives in the legislative arm of government; (iii) the introduction of a mixed member electoral system but leaving it yet again to Parliament to decide the exact nature of such a system; (iv) provisions relating to a coalition government in a presidential system which effectively deprive the people the chance to elect their President; and (v) Uncertainty regarding the constitution and composition of the judiciary fuelled by provisions which leave open the number of judges to constitute the courts, yet again leaving it to the whims of successive governments to decide the number of judges.
We welcome the LAZ Council’s resolve to put into motion a number of interventions with the ultimate aim of achieving a rethink about a number of retrogressive provisions in the Bill.
The LAZ Council says, “these include seeking the intervention of the wisdom of the judiciary by moving the Constitutional Court to pronounce itself on a number of these provisions and strike out all retrogressive provisions from the Bill. LAZ will also engage the government through the Minister of Justice to convey its concerns about the retrogressive provisions in the Bill. LAZ is further reaching out to other stakeholders in the constitution making process to join hands with it in building consensus on the concerning provisions of the Bill.”
But can the Constitutional Court be relied on to strike out these retrogressive provisions from the Bill? Are we not expecting too much from this court? Time alone will tell. But LAZ and other stakeholders may need to think beyond the judiciary if we are to reverse this bill Edgar has put into motion.