ONLY the people can change the constitution, says Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika.
And Dr Neo Simutanyi who is the Centre for Policy Dialogue director quoted Donald Horowitz who one wrote in his book that in Africa elections are just an ethnical census.
During his lecture to the Copperbelt University’s Dag Hammarsjkjold Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies conference on ‘Ethnicity,
State-building, Collective Grievances and Politics of Identity’, Mbikusita-Lewanika said the PF was molesting and manipulating the constitution using Bill 10.
“This is the history of Zambia: when Zambians voted yes to the 1969 referendum, they opened the gates to this culture (personalised power) so that for you to be saying that in Bill 10 I like Article 3 or 7, you are actually perpetrating that. The principled stand that should be made is that we cannot have anybody, apart from the people as a whole, changing the constitution, whether the change is in your favour or not,” he said.
“I heard a young man when Prof Ndulo was discussing, he said out of this package of changes, I like one…so if each Zambian accepts everything that is in their interest and tolerate everything that is wrong, that is what perpetrates that (personalised power). No oppressor actually makes everybody into an enemy, it is selective but at the end of the day we all become an enemy…so picking which points you like in Bill 10 is like choosing the best way to be raped,” Mbikusita-Lewanika said.
He said it was foolish to put a clause in the constitution that Zambia was a Christian nation when leaders were personalising power.
“They are even now personalising votes,” Mbikusita-Lewanika said amid laughter.
He encouraged Zambians to read the parliamentary records of January to October 1969 over the referendum held at that time which Zambians
Mbikusita-Lewanika said the 1969 referendum should have ended all other constitutional amendments but added that by voting yes Zambians gave a blank cheque to the ruling class to be able to change the constitution at will, which was with the Bill 10 case.
He said the 1969 referendum moved the country from a democratic nation to a personalised leadership.
“It facilitated the capture of the State by the ruling party. Some of the colonial measures and policies were worsened. What happened in 1969 was deliberate and was calculated and was a well paved path of where we are today,” he said.
“So the 2019 constitutional manipulation and molestation is actually a tradition that was sanctioned by the Zambian people’s vote of 1969.
Under false pretences, they said it will bring about development, after that, we went into regression, it was supposed to bring freedom, but we ended up with the one party state. We were building a foundation for a Zambia but at the same time undermining it in other activities,” said Mbikusita-Lewanika.
“More importantly, the constitutional foundation was extremely personalised, excessively presidential, more excessive than in other
Africa countries, so some of the problems were are witnessing today are not new to Lungu or new to 2019, we have to look at the sort of history.”
Dr Simutanyi said the ruling party was using power to delegitimise the opposition from holding power.
He added that most ministers, permanent secretaries and parastatal heads were being appointed from the East and Bemba speaking areas so as to marginalise those areas that voted against the PF in 2016.