Qualification to be an MP: The Case of Charmine Musonda

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Charmine Musonda

A lot has been said about the suitability of the UPND candidate for Chilanga Constituency bye-election, Ms. Charmine Musonda. Moral issues and arguments have been raised and advanced by both opponents and proponents of her within and outside the party including independent analysts.

These moral issues, unfortunately, are not prescribed in the electoral law, the constitution and others laws. Zambia’s electoral laws and Constitution do not prescribe anywhere that divorcees or divorced, a suspected homebreakers, husband or wife snatchers, prostitutes (both males and females) or need those with boyfriends and girlfriends are ineligible to stand in an election save for the certified married couples, pure singles, if any, widowers or widows.

Unless we legislate or introduce a moral clause in our laws as a qualification as we did with Grade 12 clause, the current Constitution does not discriminate or cast aspersion at any aspirant based on morality.

Actually it stipulates and outlines qualifications in clear terms for one to be MP in Article 70 thus “subject to clause (2), a person is eligible to be elected as a Member of Parliament, if that person—(a) is a citizen; (b) is at least twenty-one years old; (d) has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a grade twelve certificate or its equivalent; and (e) declares that person’s assets and liabilities, as prescribed. (c) is a registered voter” which Ms. Musonda squarely met.

Under 71 of the Constitution states, “a nomination for election to the National Assembly is valid if the candidate—(a) has paid a prescribed election fee to the Electoral Commission; and (b) is supported by at least fifteen persons registered as voters in the constituency in which the candidate is standing for election” again which Ms. Musonda squarely fulfilled.

From a political party viewpoint, depending on which party one is standing, primaries are held from ward, constituency, and district, provincial and central committees to select candidates which Ms. Musonda respectfully fulfilled and cleared by all organs and emerged a Star. The winner of at all those, structures, especially, the ward primaries, is ideally supposed to be adopted regardless.

However, the practice has been imposition of candidates by central committees on local people which in most cases led to aspirants standing as independents, not on their own volition but because they feel cheated by the party top officials.

Issues of intra-party corruption and bribery have been raised in many political party adoption processes and systems but these cannot be blamed on candidates aspiring in political parties especially that there is inherent weakness in internal anti-corruption, anti-bribery, anti-vote-buying systems. No reports have been issued that one of the aspiring candidates or officials has been disqualified or demoted respectively for engaging into anti-democratic tendencies such as corruption and bribery. This means that political parties are inherently tolerant of such electoral vices.

Therefore, in a morally broken society like ours and in a country where morals are not legislated or prescribed in the laws and where there is no national agreed moral code, it is legally, morally and democratically wrong to cast aspersions at or discriminate Ms. Musonda on her perceived past, present and future.

Each one of us has got a past, present and future save that some of the people’s pasts have not been unearthed. The day these pasts will be unearthed for some people, even the Devil will be surprised and shocked.

Respect the Chilanga grassroots’ decisions and allow Ms. Musonda represent them since she meets all legal and party requirements for being nominated and elected as MP. Congratulations to PF and UPND, for not only adopting women, but for pledging for peaceful campaigns. Congratulations to all other political parties for participating in this bye-elections and breaking the African syndrome of one-party dominant electoral democracy.

Let the Code of Conduct be enforced and adhered to fully by the ECZ and political, media, law enforcement and civic players.

By MacDonald Chipenzi

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