Constitution Interpretation: Where was everyone all this time?

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01-Constitution issuesBy Joe Mwansa Lombe Kaluba
A constitution in any given country is a guild in a number of issues. Governance, Transparency, Human Rights, Law and Order or enhancement of the Democratic process are all anchored on this supreme law of the land. In most countries this fundamental law(Constitution) is treasured from the time it is conceived through it’s gestation period until it is born. This(treasuring) continues as long as it is respected.
All stockholders such as the government, Civil Society Organisations(CSOs), the media, Faith Based Organisations(FBOs), political parties, citizens and friends of a country do their best to do what they can to have a fully baked document. I should mention that it is not only giving impotence to the caring during that gestation period(process) but also giving importance to the treasure and what is in it(content).
In my opinion as Zambians we are always failing in everything related to this. The problem is we live in a country where everything is election orientated. Institutions like the Law Association of Zambia(LAZ), political parties and some CSOs concentrate(d) to much in politicking the constitution adoption process than looking at the contents of this important document. We are having misunderstanding of issues now because of this.
We wanted a constitution which would stand the test of time. The question is do we even know or understand what is in it. We claimed we spoke for others. Did we? I am very sure some of these groups or individuals who claimed they were speaking for the people did not or don’t know what is written in this document.
How long has this document been in the gestation period? Close to a decade. Why should we wait for elections in order for us to start looking at the Grade 12 certificate issue? Why should we wait for the President to dissolve Parliament for us to start debating the issue of the ministers remaining in office? The reason is obvious. We are a country which/who want to focus or attach things to last minute situations.
We should bear in mind that the submissions of what is contained in the constitution came from us and the so called representatives, experts and technical teams put in place in the past seven years or so. After being quiet for some time now everyone is quoting clauses. Everyone now is a constitutional lawyer. Do we need to do that now? Where was LAZ all this time? The country needed our lawyers to guild us on the contents during the debates. Where was LAZ? Organisations who have now come to light where were they in the past five years or so?
Those politicians who can not stand because of the Grade 12 clause. What were they doing all this time? This shows you that most of this people and groups did not have any idea of what they were advocating for or what they were debating. If they had it was only the elements or clauses in the constitution they saw fit to give them advantage.
For sure if I was an MP and I knew that I had no School Certificate and after seeing that it was one of the proposed requirements for any elective office. I would have enrolled in some school in order to get one. Five, six or seven years is a long time. A person who new about this clause would work hard to get it. I also doubt if political parties read about this. They should have given direction to their members. CSOs would have given guidance to the people they so much claim to be speaking for.
On the grade 12 issue I have no sympathy for these politicians and I have no kind words for organisations who were just interested in allowance at the expense of the people they claim to speak for.
President Edger Lungu and the Patriotic Front may have signed that Constitution Bill earlier this year. I however think that all parties involved including this government and the Movement for Multiparty Democracy(MMD) as party in office five years ago, the opposition, CSOs, professional bodies like LAZ and Media have failed Zambia. As I said we have spent a lot of time in the past years politicising the adoption process than looking at the content of the constitution.
While others focused or politicking only a hand full of organisations looked at the content. I want to put it on record that amongst the few organisations the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is that example of a CSO which looked at both the content and process of the constitution. And they made it public. Even when they pulled out of the Grand Coalition for the people(which people?) driven(to where and by who?) constitution. YALI’s reasons centred on both the process(road map) and debating the content of our supreme law. The other individual who raised some issues was General Godfrey Miyanda of the Heritage Party. Instead of debating the so called contentious issues people were busy debating political parties and names of individuals.
The other issue is the Referendum in relation to our constitution. All those individuals and organisations including the government who have been talking about adopting certain clauses through a popular vote have been quiet for the past four months. Now that the elections and the said proposal of having the referendum along side the general elections is drawing closer. Everyone will come out and start to speak for the “ Zambian people”. As I said everything is attached to politics and elections. Why do we have to wait for elections for everything?
If you want to know how expensive or cost effective things are wait for elections. If you want to know what development is or is not taking place wait for elections. If you want to know who has or does not have a Grade 12 certificate wait for elections. If you want to know who is not or who is a Zambian wait for elections. If you want to know the best economist, political scientist, best lawyer or best civil or human rights activist just wait for elections and you will know them.
If this is the case then I will say we have failed ourselves again because we never learn as a country. We have to draw lessons from our past mistakes and mismanagement or misunderstanding of issues. We have to learn and move on. We have to be tolerant in whatever affects the people by putting our individual interests aside. We need not to wait for the last minute. We have to stop politicking otherwise we will remain in the mud in many things.
Political parties, CSOs, FBOs, media, professional bodies and government should take time to explain what are the content of our Constitution. As Zambians we should also take interest in reading and understanding documents like the constitution.
Looking at the constitution and after reading through it. You will see that there are a lot of things which are important for our democratic consolidation, our governance, our transparency, our human rights. Issues of gender and accountability. The question is. How ready are we in order or for us to embrace these elements?
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5 Responses to Constitution Interpretation: Where was everyone all this time?

  1. Kwena Kaluba alasa & all what he has written its true. I think even the representatives and the technical tean did not know this outcome.

    THABO
    May 12, 2016 at 1:44 pm
    Reply

  2. Where was LAZ all this time? The country needed our lawyers to guild us on the contents during the debates. Where was LAZ? Organisations who have now come to light where were they in the past five years or so? Long live cabinet and let be gone be be gone and oppositions be oppositions

    Assage
    May 13, 2016 at 5:23 am
    Reply

  3. Well said, Very few have taken interest to read the constitution. Its a good lesson to all well meaning Zambians.

    MATURE
    May 13, 2016 at 8:57 am
    Reply

  4. You author of this document must have been born yesterday. You have shown silly levels of ignorance. How come you do not know that in the past constitution making processes stakeholders concentrated on the contents only for the dictators in the name of the Presidents to hijack it and throw away all good contents that they perceived against their powers. Even now the dictator threw away most of the progressive clauses that were in draft constitution now wonder the confused constitution he has imposed on us. You want us to believe that this confused constitution is a product of the citizens as presented in draft when in fact not. Just accept you have a dull and sleeping Head of State who despite being a lawyer has failed to settle the constitution question in Zambia. Its a shame

    Lucy
    May 13, 2016 at 9:33 am
    Reply

    • I agree with you Lucy. It seems the Author of this document was born yesterday or must have been in “hibernation” . LAZ. CSO, Church mother bodies, individual zambians etc have been advising and guiding PF government to follow the right procedure but it was falling on deaf ears. At one time some President said show me and “Animal driven” constitution before you talk of peoples driven one. When the agrred process is not followed this is what you get. Look at the G12 clause, when UPND MPs asked to debate the issues contained in what was presented to parliament they were called names and all that PF MPs were waiting for is to raise there hands in favour of what they did not even read. It is really a shame. Ya ati ba layer ECL. Indeed Zambia is a shame

      ZIONEKE
      May 13, 2016 at 5:45 pm
      Reply

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