Coalition government recipe for disaster

Coalition government recipe for disaster

Elias Munshya writes:


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.

Elias Munshya
Munshya Law

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    Chunfwa umwine 5 days ago

    50+1 Or coalition does not prove as a way of having workable Governments. Simple majority was fine for this country. This will just materialize anarchy in our country, and this issue of not desolving parliament is nothing but a mess. Simple majority rule was the best for this country to avoid rerun.

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    The coalition should be based on the parliamentary seat and not on percentage ,even if a party has no mp as long as it has a percentage of votes no ways ,I think app baitaya ma lawyers who where at ndf

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    Munshya writes that the coalition government cannot work in Zambia ” 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.” My reaction is that “Westminster” is usually applied to the British parliamentary system. Under the system, there is a separation between the Head of State and Head of Government. The Head of State is a ceremonial head, the Queen, who stands above partisan politics and represents the continuity of the state. Under this system, it is the head of government or prime minister who is elected from the party with the highest votes in the House of Commons to whom he/she is directly accountable. In the South African case, the Head of State who is Head of government is President and has tended to assume more presidential power than was initially designed under the immediate post-apartheid democratic dispensation. The book by Shugart on Presidential and Parliamentary systems may be of help to the author.

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    Chuki 6 days ago

    Mr Mulenga, Mr Munshya is absolutely right. Coalition system in Zambia cannot work the it is being proposed. Coalition should be based on seats a particular part has in parliament. What the NDF has proposed should be smoothened by parliament. We shall end up with a major part having coalition with a small part with nil seats in parliament if the motivation will be to reach 50+1% for the presidential candidate. Coalitions works better with Westminster system as it is based on seats with motivation of party forming government partnering with a smaller part which will give it sufficient numbers in parley. Hybrid of Washington and Westminster is a recipe for anarchy.

    Let us express our views without clouding ourselves with partisan thinking.

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      Miles Mulenga 5 days ago

      Nobody of the respondents answers the question on what to do when an election result does not deliver a majority for any of the parties. What to do when (example) PF gets 30%, MMD gets 30% and UPND also gets 30%? It has been suggested elsewhere that a rerun of the election would be desirable – but in my view that would be an insult to the voters. It is up to politics to deliver on the result presented. If the biggest party only gets 30% then a minority government is not going to last long. That leaves a coalition government. What is so bad about a coalition government? Just that politicians are not used to cooperate together, and only know to reject any idea coming from another party? Time to grow up…….

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    Miles Mulenga 6 days ago

    What a nonsense. Coalition governments operate in many many countries successfully. It’s just a matter of WANTING to work together. If neither party obtains the majority (which is the case in many many countries) then there is no choice: a number of parties (the socalled coalition) agrees to work together to achieve a mutually cooperative agenda. This is MUCH more stable than just one party which  drives its own agenda through, only to be voted out at the next election when they have failed to achieve anything. With multiple parties involved in the coalition. it is in EVERYBODY’s interest to make it work.

    What are you going to do if at the next election when the biggest party does not get more than say 30% of the seats in parlement?  You clearly have not thought through your arguments very well.