The need for strong governance institutions

In a democracy such as ours, institutions promote the creation and maintenance of an orderly process by which decisions are made, disputes are resolved, and power is transferred from one group to another. The importance of quality local governance is increasingly being recognised at the national level around the world. And so, having strong institutions of governance should be the hallmark of every country’s democracy.

And Attorney General Mulilo Kabesha says there must be watchdog institutions that ensure a level playing field in the area of governance.

He adds that strong institutions of governance have a direct bearing on the development of a country “as these will ensure that no one is above the law”.

“Fundamental among such institutions is an independent judiciary, a free press, and an active civil society. In this regard, the UPND government commits to the following in order to promote good governance: establish a durable constitutional order that will catalyse the political, economic and social development,” says Kabesha. “Complete the constitutional reform agenda anchored on a broad-based consensus among all Zambians. Domesticate key international and regional conventions to uphold good governance. Revive the process of expanding the Bill of Rights to integrate economic, social and cultural rights. Guarantee independence and autonomy of the judiciary, a free press and an active civil society.”

Mulilo’s convictions are soothing and definitely welcome. We are coming from a situation where almost all our institutions of governance were weakened by Edgar Lungu and his cohorts. The Judiciary that Mulilo is talking about has remained a shell of its former self. The Executive too was swallowed up by Edgar’s Executive. In essence, all institutions of governance that people could run to were swallowed up by Edgar’s PF. Zambians were left to defend themselves in a different way and wait for August 12 to kick out Edgar and his minions.

Today, it is clear to see that the UPND administration has a lot of work to do, to correct the filthy left by PF. It is no wonder that most of the people who benefitted from the PF disorder are uncomfortable with the order that Hakainde Hichilema and his team are trying to bring. It is said that good things always face resistance until people begin to see results.

The Judiciary itself needs a complete overhaul. In fact, it had become a field of cartels where those who aligned themselves with the crooked PF administration exerted their power. The worst is that the public could not get any justice from the judiciary when they needed it most.
The people of Zambia deserve better. For democracy to work, we need trusted institutions to act as both arbiters and stabilisers.

But to get to the promised land requires that we all work for it – put the UPND administration to serious scrutiny. For nothing comes on a silver platter.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau once warned that, “If there were a nation of Gods, it would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is not suited to men.”

Truly, people cannot just be consumers of good governance, they should be participants. This is what it entails to have good institutions – institutions that can check on the excesses of the Executive, including the President.

Rohini Nilekani advised, “We cannot be mere consumers of good governance, we must be participants; we must be co-creators.”

Ramez Naam added that, “We’ve seen over time that countries that have the best economic growth are those that have good governance, and good governance comes from freedom of communication. It comes from ending corruption. It comes from a populace that can go online and say, ‘this politician is corrupt, this administrator, or this public official is corrupt’.”

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