Bishop Mpundu reflects on NCC performance

ARCHBISHOP Telesphore Mpundu has observed that the people of Zambia have once again been dribbled over the constitution making process.

And Archbishop Mpundu has said the degree clause adopted by the NCC as one of the qualifications for a presidential candidate is retrogressive.

Reflecting on the performance of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) whose sittings have been adjourned, the Lusaka Catholic Archbishop said the nation had been given a raw deal considering the amount of money spent on the process.

He said it was sad that NCC delegates chose to represent themselves other than the ordinary Zambian.

“As regards the proceedings of the NCC, it is my considered opinion that the Zambian people have once again been given a raw deal; especially considering the enormous amounts of money spent on this exercise and the recent alleged attempts to fleece the taxpayer for a few more billions.

It is up to the people of Zambia to judge as to whether or not the NCC is or has lived up to their expectations. I personally think that once again the people of Zambia have been dribbled,” Archbishop Mpundu said.

“We have been through this process twice before in 1991 after the Mvunga Commission and in 1996 after the Mwanakatwe CRC Constitution Review Commission report when the government of the day rejected at least 70 per cent of its recommendations. This time around after the Mung’omba CRC report will be the third and, in all appearances, as it appears, will not be the last.”

He warned that the nation was sitting on a time bomb as there would continue to be tension in the nation after every other election.

“As a nation we just can’t find the right formula to make a constitution ‘that can stand the test of time’! We are, however, sitting on a time bomb.

There has been a loud enough alarm bell already that unless we handle very cautiously the issue of a new constitution and take on board the much needed and long overdue electoral reforms to ensure free, fair and transparent elections we should not be astonished if much more severe unrest comes our way before, during or after the 2011 election,” he said.

Archbishop Mpundu said although the nation was over 18 months away from elections the atmosphere was already charged.

“Though the elections are still almost two years away the atmosphere is already charged. We should not forget that political cadres who at this time can act with impunity, insulting public figures and threatening them with untold atrocities in the open will even be more sadistic at the time of elections,” he said. “What happened in Kenya in December 2007 to January 2008 could happen in Zambia if we are not vigilant. Let us pray that it is not yet too late for the NCC to deliver.”

Archbishop Mpundu questioned the morality in promising Zambians a new constitution before 2011 even though it was clear that such a thing would not happen.

“Some key clauses that are meant to strengthen our elections legal framework and level the playing field for election contenders have been referred to the referendum. Some questions we need to ask at this point are: Is the referendum going to take place this year or next year?

Is the electorate going to vote only on the referred issues or on the whole constitution? Is the electorate going to the polls in a referendum and general elections in one year,” Archbishop Mpundu asked. “The people of Zambia have been promised a ‘new constitution’ before the 2011 general and presidential elections.

The chances are that we shall be given a ‘new constitution’ which is only a shadow of what we expect and deserve and then go to the polls in a general election in 2011. The referendum when and if it comes, will be long after the 2011 presidential and general elections.”

He maintained that a Constiuent Assembly would have been more balanced than the NCC.
Archbishop Mpundu said everyone who boycotted the NCC had been vindicated by the outcome of the deliberations so far.

“A Constituent Assembly would have been more representative of the Zambian people, more inclusive and broad based. However, the NCC which was put forward as a form of Constituent Assembly, though certainly larger, is decidedly neither all inclusive nor broad based.

This tilted balance has negatively impacted on the process in the NCC and it is therefore little wonder that the content of the Mung’omba report has equally been affected,” Archbishop Mpundu said. “My view, which I share with many other citizens, is that the NCC seems to be writing a parallel document to the Mung’omba report which took thirty months to produce after listening to submissions from citizens, government agencies, civil society and experts in constitutional law and related matters of constituionalism. Consequently we have witnessed the purging from the Mung’omba CRC report of clauses which were widely agreed upon by the people of Zambia.”

And Archbishop Mpundu said there were many leaders in world history who succeeded without attaining a university degree.

“The degree requirement the NCC has decided on is short sighted, discriminatory, restrictive and retrogresssive. Examples abound in past and present histroy of national leaders at the highest level who never saw the inside of a university lecture room and yet performed to the highest expectations.

Winston Spencer Churchill for example, though he was a precocious child in his field of interest, struggled through secondary school and managed only as far as junior commissioned army/cavalry officer and self-made journalist or correspondent during the Second Anglo-Boer War,” Archbishop Mpundu recounted. “He was Prime Minister of Britain at three different times and is one of the greatest British men of all times in a country with many centuries of excellent university education. In the Ivory Coast it is a discriminatory clause of their constitution that plunged that country into civil war and for the past five years it has not been able to go to the polls to elect a president!”

He said the ability to rule a country was not a preserve of degree holders, but that anyone capable of leading people could become president.

“Ability, vision, intelligence and wisdom are not an exclusive preserve of degree holders otherwise it would be impossible to explain such ‘phenomena’, for lack of a better word, as Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, Lula de Silva of Brazil and Jacob Zuma of South Africa to mention but a few.

Thomas Edison, an American, was dismissed from primary school as a child for being ‘too slow to learn’! His mother taught him at home; when he died the whole of the America honoured him by two minutes of darkness during which all lights were switched off because Edison was the ‘too slow to learn’ child who later invented the electric light, the gramophone and motion pictures! Bill Gates is certainly one of the richest men, if not the richest man today. He is a self-made high school dropout whose success is there for the world to see,” said Archbishop Mpundu.
Source: Post Newspaper

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