For me and many Zambians, The Zambian Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019 is a Personal Matter

ONE of the first things that get destroyed when a dictatorship is trying to entrench itself is personal responsibility and personal accountability. When a government wants to kill and maim its people, it first begins by depersonalising them and the issues that concern them. It is not surprising, therefore, that the justice minister is calling for the depersonalisation of the constitution debate process. Once the person is removed from the narrative, it could be more comfortable for the government to push through its changes.
Our gallant duty as a people during a time such as this is to make it very clear to the powers that be, that any amendment to the supreme law of the land is a personal issue for all Zambians. When people gather together to conspire against the people of Zambia, it is the duty of the people to make it very clear to those in power, that the people will not take these machinations while lying down.
Bill 10 did not just create itself. People who had a motive designed it. How then can the Justice Minister claim that fighting Bill 10 should not be personal? It is persons who made Bill 10, it will be persons to fight it, and it will be persons to tell other persons that this Bill must not become law.
Bill 10 is personal in the sense that it touches on individual rights of the people of Zambia. If Bill 10 were to go through and become law, it would fundamentally disturb the personal rights of the citizens of Zambia and the way they exercise those rights. Any law that affects the individual rights of the people is a personal law, and its consequences are therefore personal. If Bill 10 passed, it would affect how Zambians exercise the individual right of electing their President. Bill 10 will so fundamentally alter the people’s right to vote because suddenly and without much explanation, a president will now be chosen not by the people, but through backroom deals in an ill-defined “coalition”.
Bill 10 explicitly refuses to acknowledge any role for Barotseland. It empowers the President of Zambia with a unilateral power to split provinces and to create new provinces, without recourse to the people concerned or to the Parliament of Zambia. Barotseland, therefore, is at the disposal of the unilateral power of the President to do with it, whatever the President wishes. Just when we were hoping that wounds of Barotseland could be healed by acknowledging its constitutional status within a united Zambia, Mr Lubinda comes up with a Bill that completely undermines the viability of a united nation. A President empowered through Bill 10 can dismantle Barotseland. This is not right.
Bill is personal due to the treachery that is behind its creation. Mr Lubinda is a traitor to the democratic character of the republic. He has personally accepted to be used as a tool to entrench a dictatorship. The changes he is pushing through are changes he has personally sanctioned knowing full well that these changes do not enhance our country’s democratic spirit. This traitor, masquerading as a justice minister, should know that the people of Zambia will not allow him to manipulate them into accepting a constitutional amendment that makes Zambians become slaves to the presidency.
What is even making it worse for Mr Lubinda is the arrogance with which he is approaching this issue. We wonder, is it because he considers himself a Zayello that he would be this arrogant as to insult the people of Zambia with a Bill that will permanently kill their democracy? Being a Zayello aside, my three Lozi children should never have to live in a society in which they are made to feel like Lozis are the tools that other Zambians used to destroy Zambian democracy. If Zambia is one nation – then we must desist from this system of other tribes conspiring against the nation by using Lubindas or Kalalukas. If Lungu wants to destroy Zambian democracy, why doesn’t he do so with a justice minister or Attorney General from Petauke? That way, Lozis will not be close to this narrative. Just as many people do know very well, tribalism in Zambia is worse against Lozis, and Tongas – at least it is perceived that way. Tomorrow, Lozis may be blamed by the tribalists for Lubinda’s machinations. Lozi citizens should refuse to be used like this, because tomorrow, once the tribalistic history is written, it will not be said that Lungu destroyed democracy. It will be said that Dr Lungu destroyed democracy using tools that were well sculptured for the President’s use: Lubinda and Kalaluka.
Mr Lubinda knew that the NDF was a tool of his creation to push through the changes he already envisaged. He envisaged these changes personally. He then invited pseudo-intellectual quacks to be the theory behind the NDF discussions. They then designed a Bill that lacks coherence. This is the Bill that proposes to abolish Articles 68, 69, 70, 71, and 72 of the Constitution of Zambia, without offering an alternative solution. The Bill eliminates these Articles and then remains mute on their replacement. How can this treachery be reasonable? How can this be considered normal in a democratic society?
This Bill proposes to abolish the multi-religious character of the Republic of Zambia. With due respect to my vocal Pentecostal sisters and brothers – Zambia is a multi-religious nation. And the history and suspicion that we Pentecostals have had to endure should make us pause when a government tries to entrench a particular version of Christian faithfulness. We may think that we are victorious by allowing this Bill 10 because it has the “Christian-everything” we wanted. But a constitution that contradicts the Bill of Rights is not a constitution worth its salt; and Pentecostals must look beyond the ruse and call Bill 10 for what it is: a Bill that works against the democratic character of our republic. We, Pentecostals, seem to be a one-issue faith that can easily get corrupted by meaningless things as long as someone misuses the name of our Lord.
Pentecostals, no matter how highly educated, seem to be comfortable being the tool that tolerates political tyranny and misperception in Zambia. However, for a time such as this, Pentecostals must rise and speak truth to President Dr Lungu and his Zayello minister of justice. Maybe once Pentecostals talk, this government may listen. But no. Pentecostals are busy trying to become as wealthy as Lungu’s jets; or as powerful as Lungu’s bodyguards. Or as disorganised as Mr Lubinda. Robbed of the prophetic role; we have become a one-issue faith selling our souls, not to God or the Holy Spirit, but a corrupt Caesar. And as ‘Mr Zayello’ pushes through with his Bill 10, our silence shows our complacency with tyranny.
The author can be reached at elias@munshyalaw.com

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