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Home  Letters to the Editor  Constitution Related Demonstrations
Constitution Related Demonstrations
Contributed by Henry Kyambalesa   
Jan 04, 2024 at 04:44 PM

LUSAKA, Jan. 2 - The planned demonstrations by the Patriotic Front (PF) over the slow pace of the constitution-making process need not be perceived as a scheme designed to destabilize the country. Zambians nationwide have generally become weary of routine and rehearsed utterances that the government is committed to the review of the constitution as demanded by the people without providing a definite timetable that is consistent with the people’s expectations.

The people want a new Republican constitution that should be adopted through a constituent assembly, and to have it sooner rather than later. So, why impose anything else on them? The acquisition of a costly presidential helicopter, the 37 video-mounted Nissan vans for ZANIS, and the 36 four-wheel drive vehicles for chiefs suggests that money for the constitution-making process is really not the problem. The adamancy about maintaining the highly bloated executive branch of the government would perhaps support this thesis.

The Electoral Reform Technical Committee (ERTC) and the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) have already done a great job in this endeavor. What we need now is for the authorities to treat the constitutional issue with utmost urgency. Meanwhile, the Draft Republican Constitution prepared by the CRC in December 2005 has continued to gather dust on the shelves!

In passing, there is a need for the authorities to be mindful of the fact that the Republican constitution is really not intended to be for, or sanctioned by, a particular political party or clique of government leaders. It is a constitution for all Zambians—today and forever! I believe it is unforgiving for government leaders to fail to demonstrate the fact that they are individually and collectively accountable to the people. How is it possible that partisan and selfish interests can intoxicate leaders to the extent of making them to disregard the will of the people to whom they are supposed to be accountable?

The following observations evoked by the seemingly partisan and selfish interests that characterized the formulation and adoption of the 1996 Republican constitution should serve as important caveats in our quest to address the current constitutional impasse:

1. “A bad constitution is a divisive document, and divisions which can be occasioned by such a constitution can very easily ferment bloody conflicts in a society.”—THE POST. (Excerpted and adapted from “It Is a Recipe for Anarchy,” The Post, August 1, 1995.)

2. “A constitution should not belong to, or be respected only by, the political party that happens to be in power at the time of its drafting or amendment.”—THE POST. (Excerpted and adapted from “It Is a Recipe for Anarchy,” The Post, August 1, 1995.)

3. “If, for the love of power, those in government today turn their backs, and block their ears, to the legitimate constitutional concerns of other citizens who see things differently, they should accept an apportioned responsibility for the turmoil that may ensue.”—THE POST. (Excerpted from “It Is a Recipe for Anarchy,” The Post, August 1, 1995.)

4. “Is it not true that it is self-interest and a small urban elite that is detached from the urgent concerns of the majority of citizens that have sabotaged the process of creating a popular constitution?”—ZAMBIA CIVIC EDUCATION ASSOCIATION. (Excerpted and adapted from “Constitutional Debate,” The Post, August 4, 1995.)

5. “Only justice, fairness, and genuine democracy can prevent social and political unrest in a country; for a country like ours, the starting point in forestalling such unrest is to have an acceptable constitution, good leadership, and sound development policies and programs.”—AKASHAMBATWA MBIKUSITA-LEWANIKA. (Excerpted and adapted from “Coups Are Not Irrelevant Topics,” The Post, August 29, 1995.)

6. “There is morally no excuse for denying citizens the right to determine the content of their country’s constitution.”—ELIAS CHIPIMO, JR. (Excerpted and adapted from Mwape, B., “Government Using Trickery to Adopt Constitution,” The Post, August 22, 1995.)

7. “As the supreme law of the land, the Constitution must be recognized and respected as embodying the sovereign will of the majority of our people.”—FATHER JOE KOMAKOMA. (Excerpted from “Government Must Respect the People’s Wishes,” The Post, October 13, 1995.)

8. “Regardless of whether we want to be partisan or otherwise, we all need to bear in mind the fact that our country’s constitution is the supreme law of the land and, as such, it should be able to endure the test of time, as well as earn the respect of the citizenry.”—THE POST. (Excerpted and adapted from “White Paper a Waste of Time and Money,” The Post, October 10, 1995.)

by Henry Kyambalesa
Agenda for Change 

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