THE National Constitutional Conference (NCC) yesterday unanimously adopted an article that requires a presidential candidate to have the minimum academic qualification of a degree [from a recognized university].
Article 123 (1) (e) of the Willa Mung’omba draft constitution states that a person would only be qualified to be a presidential candidate if they had obtained the minimum academic qualification of a grade 12 certificate.
However, the NCC executive committee changed the qualification to that of first degree, which the plenary adopted.
Contributing to debate, delegate William Chipango said that at independence, Zambia had a few graduates but now they were many and should be given chance to rule the country.
Mr Chipango said the country had to move forward by allowing young graduates to occupy the office of the president.
Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) president Stanley Mhango said he supported the clause but that the same should apply to ministers while Mary Mulundika said that a president should be knowledgeable enough to represent the nation.
Gender Deputy Minister Lucy Changwe said the clause should be supported because education built on wisdom and dropping the clause would be doing the country a disservice.
Commerce Deputy Minister Lwipa Puma said the issue was straightforward because there were 12 universities in the country and it was easy for people to enrol while a freedom fighter Cosmas Chibanda said that if a speaker should be a degree holder it be the same with the president.
But Reverend Mwila Mutambala said the clause was discriminatory and it should be left to the people to decide who they wanted to vote for.
Rev Mutambala said there were countries that had developed with presidents who had no degrees while Joseph Chibula said there was nothing wrong with the current situation.
Mr Chibula said the clause was discriminatory because education was different from leadership while Peasant and Small-Scale Farmers Association president Rodger Phiri said that the country had been ruled by people without degrees.
Mr Phiri said a degree was just a paper obtained in class and leadership was wisdom that was not learnt in class because there were people who had made it in life without being educated because of lack of money.
The other articles adopted from the Willa Mung’omba Draft Constitution were that a presidential candidate should be a citizen by birth, did not have dual citizenship and had been resident in Zambia for a continuous 10 years preceding the election.
The presidential candidate would also be required to be not less than 35 years, conversant with the official language, of sound mind and should not be serving a sentence of imprisonment.
Times of Zambia