The National Disaster Forum: Our view on the NDF’s coalition proposal
By Elias Munshya, LLM, MBA, MDIV.
The so called National Dialogue Forum has proposed to allow for a coalition government if none of the presidential candidates gets 50%+1 vote. This is a recipe for confusion in Zambia as the system stands. For this coalition idea to be successful, the primary political and electoral system in Zambia must change in a significant way. There is no way this coalition idea can work without having to change our system to the South African Westminster model where the Head of State and Government gets elected from the national assembly and is herself a member of the national assembly. The Westminster system is the only system where a coalition government can work because the President derives their mandate from parliament. In the Zambian system, a President does not derive their mandate from parliament but directly from direct universal suffrage. Direct universal suffrage cannot grant a coalition as there is no infrastructure for it. Parties cannot both claim to have the mandate directly from the people unless that mandate is mediated through a parliament that holds the power. Is this what the NDF is proposing? No! They are just saying that if a presidential candidate does not have 50% +1, they can form a coalition government with a party that supplies the difference. The difference of what exactly? This is untenable under the Washington model which governs Zambia’s presidential system.
If we are now going to take the pure Westminster system like South Africans, let them tell us. Otherwise, the NDF is just fermenting a complete disaster. How come the whole disaster forum has very little understanding of the hybrid system under which Zambia operates? Where did they dream about the coalition idea? Coalitions can work in England and South Africa. They cannot work in Washington and Lusaka which run a pure presidential system which derives powers directly from the people.
Or may be the NDF had in mind the frauds of coalition and power sharing governments of Zimbabwe and Kenya. What happened temporarily in those counties weren’t coalitions, it was meaningless disasters.