By Edwin Sakala (Zambia Direct Democracy Movement)
The draft constitution released by the Patriotic Front Technical Committee of Experts on Constitution is a corrupt version of the National Constitution Conference –NCC version which the National Assembly rejected not long ago. When you compare the PF-TCE draft constitution with the one that was rejected by the National Assembly, you will notice that, the earlier version had people at heart. Unlike the current constitution under review which is politically motivated by way of giving the central government more power, the earlier version was flexible and had provisions of democracy in it.
The current version of the draft constitution has killed the spirit of people participating in governance.
The only thing the current version does is to retain the ideas of One Party State which saw the first republican president Dr, Kenneth Kaunda suffer a humiliating defeat in 1991. In a nutshell, the current draft constitution does not address the problems of governance. All it does is to crookedly point on how the decentralisation process can be implemented in a one party style being initiated by the PF government.
While we have no objection with attempts to sneak in ideas of federal system of governance, we still feel that, the Technical Committee of Experts in the Constitution has not done much to address the problem of power sharing in draft constitution. Also the question how development should be taken to rural provinces has not been answered.
The very fact that the draft constitution still retains the idea of central government having absolute political and supervisory power is an indication that that development will be selective as it used to be in the past. We are of the idea that, the political power be stripped off from the central government and be localise to the provinces leadership. In this way, the central government will retain the supervisory role.
We are also opposed to the idea of infusing the civil society movement into provincial assemblies. With the experience we have of the Civil Society Movement in Zambia, having them in the province assemblies with be creating a recipe of confusion. We hold this position because in the past, many civil society movements were political divided in favour of political parties of their choice.
As it is today, all civil society movement have gone to bed. They see nothing wrong with the ills being committed by the PF government. To include them in the national administration, will be consolidating a new PF voice in provincial assemblies and this will be the beginning of the down fall of the democratic principles in the country.
The plot by the Technical Committee of Experts on the constitution to politically charge the PF government with inclusion of Civil Society Movement and civil servants appointed by the PF should not go unchallenged. It is a danger to our new democracy. We therefore recommend that this clause be removed unconditionally. Instead, let them infuse in a clause that will allow each province master its own resources and affairs. This should be done in consultation with government that will play the supervisory role in the country.
Otherwise we believe that it is in national interest that we discuss the NCC draft which is a genuine draft drafted by a cross section of the Zambian society instead of wasting time and resources on a document which is clearly aimed at consolidating the PF hold to power.
Zambians from across the country have been calling for a change in the governance system which the root cause of the many problems our country is facing and demanded for the introduction of a Federal system in Zambia.
Their demand is based on the fact that it is only through this that people can govern themselves and meet their aspiration unlike the current system where power is vested in a few hands in the central government. Any citizen who can take the trouble to read through the two draft constitution will observe that the NCC constitution was more mature and people oriented while the current draft is purely and clearly a partisan document aimed at promoting PF interest.