By Elias Munshya
When Justice Minister Given Lubinda announced efforts to amend the Constitution of Zambia, he did it with a great deal of arrogance and an inexcusable insult to the people of Zambia. My friend, the Attorney General, took no time in implementing this devious plan. At first, we were told that the effort was just clean up some sections of the constitution that needed a little refinement. However, to our shock and consternation, Mr. Lubinda hired a group of pseudo-intellectual quacks who went for the over-kill. It was no longer about refining the constitution, but rather a complete overhaul of Zambia’s constitutional framework and structure. The Constitution Amendment Bill (2019), which we appropriately christened as Bill 10 came with a fury. In the Bill, parliament was going to lose its oversight powers over the executive. Deputy Ministers were to be re-introduced. Judges would be appointed at will, and their constitutionalized numbers would be reduced to the simple parliamentary statute. The Bill introduced a coalition government in a system that practices a presidential system of elections. It was a total mess!
However, the Patriotic Front government kept on with their arrogance. They insisted that they will pass the Bill. They insisted that the Bill was in the interest of Zambians. And yet, they did not consult the very people they are claiming. They came up with the NDF, a forum that met in Lusaka with many Lusaka based NGOs. The NDF had 10 days to transact serious business of endorsing this constitution from hell. Not even a simple court brief can be written in 10 days. Not even an essay for a college can be done in 10 days, and yet here they were, Lubinda, Kalaluka, and Lungu insisting that the NDF would write the country’s constitution in 10 days. It was a sham!
Serious players in our country’s affairs were shunned. The UPND opposition party was excluded, or it excluded itself. The Church mother bodies were ignored. Church mother bodies – that is the serous 3 mother bodies. Of course, President Lungu found several other church mother bodies, mainly belonging to my Pentecostal faith (I am an ordained Pentecostal preacher), which were used very skillfully to claim to represent the church. Some of these Pentecostal church “mother” bodies are not serious about anything constitutionally tangible. They lack deep insight into the constitution or what it means to be a republic. It is only unserious political characters that take these charades seriously. But it is this ilk that President Lungu found tremendous comfort and adopted them as his Bill 10 advisors.
Ms. Linda Kasonde, a fiery lady we differed with when she opposed Mr. Kalaluka’s appointment as Attorney General (we supported Mr. Kalaluka’s appointment, and boy, weren’t we wrong!), filed a lawsuit challenging Bill 10. The Law Association of Zambia (LAZ) also filed a court challenge. These two court cases were a great effort at bringing visibility to the issue. In record time, the Constitutional Court of Zambia made its ruling: they claimed to have no jurisdiction over a bill, any bill. Even if a bill proposed to change the structure of their court and the constitutional structure of Zambia, the Constitutional Court judges said no, they could not intervene. We understand that there is a dissenting opinion from Madam Justice Munalula, the only academically, educationally, and constitutionally sophisticated judge to understand the role of a Constitution Court in a democracy. The other judges of the Constitutional Court would much instead make noise about former ministers reimbursing Mr. Kalaluka with K2 for illegal stay in power than actually stand up for the constitution of Zambia.
The only last line of defence regarding Bill 10 is now parliament. Parliament needs 111 votes to advance Bill 10 to Second Reading. The PF-Nakachinda alliance does not have the numbers. And so they are panicking as usual. And when the PF-Nakachinda alliance panics, it will try to retrieve the billions of kwacha it has stolen from contracts and donors (the issue Mr. Foote has pointed out) and use that money to try and corrupt the opposition MPs. But it appears like the opposition MPs are not for sale. And with that Bill 10 is dead. The only next question to ask Mr. Lubinda is: “where is isambo lya mfwa”? We, the people of Milenge, and the rest of Zambians are demanding that at least Mr. Zayello presides over this isambo. He must have a story or two to tell.
The author is a member of the Law Society of Alberta and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I KNEW MUNSHYA 。。。。HE IS AUTHENTIC AND HIS ANALYSIS IS TRUE AND THOUGH HE LIVES IN CANADA HE IS A PATRIOTIC ZAMBIAN WHO IS A HUGE BLESSING TO US。THANKYOU FOR YOUR INSIGHT ON THIS EVIL BILL
I don’t know anything about law, but reading your well articulated article gave me a clear picture of why people were saying no to Bill 10. Well done.
Good day Mr. Munshya
From a legal perspective, what would be the implications of filling a president who is not eligible for another term?
If at some point the presidents ineligibility is successfully argued while he is president in a third term, are there provisions in the constitution to be used to normalise the error?
From a constitutional point of view, which court determines the eligibility of a president?
I, like many Zambians are not law students. Kindly break it down for us.
Am not sure you are following these things closely.This bill will pass and i must state here that you people(lawyers) have been feeding us with half baked truths about this bill. One would not notice why many ,especially from the opposition party have not been able to say or cite not even a single part which shows how good the bill is. Hence you been very subjective about it. But that debate on Hot fm between Pf and UPND sponsored learned lawyer Linda Kasonde, it has become more clearer as to why you have been unable to say a single thing about the goodness of this bill. I and am sure many more, expected to hear a balanced view of this debate so that we get to learn both sides.Surely that is very misleading on your side.Such an important matter needs level headed mindedness to help ordinary citizens.This is not the first time you lawyers have done this.You de-campaigned the referendum agenda and it was voted away,we shouldn’t have been hear in the first place.
The idea of MPs walking away from important matters is very retrogressive and that is a poor strategy on the part of the political party. I think Bill No. 10 has more advantages than disadvantages.You and UPND are merely looking at the advantage of the party,but you must go beyond and look at the benefits of the majority people and not the one political party only.
Your arguments are also based on the fact that the president may abuse powers…blablabla..that assumption is also subjective.I say because good presidents need such powers to make good decisions unlike in a restrictive environment.
We have a good man in state house and he will need such powers to make better decisions for the country unlike the stifled that he has now with unreasonable opposition MPs who oppose everything without analyzing.
Bill No 10 is a progressive Bill and every Zambia meaning well for the country needs to support it. Yes a few things may not be well and i thought thats what people are going to highlight.But to reject the whole bill and demonizing it in the way you have done sir,isn’t meaning well for the country.It will pass and there will be no “isambo lyamfwa because it will live”.
Lets build Zambia together.There is time for politicking and time to take Zambia forward. Even HH will be happy with this if ,and only if he won the elections.
May be i can end with a question for you sir; Are you sponsored by HH or UPND ?