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No need for anxiety over Constitution

WHEN President Lungu assented to a people-driven Constitution Bill at the National Heroes Stadium in Lusaka on Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at a ceremony that attracted thousands of people from all walks of life, it was hailed as a milestone.
Most people hailed President Lungu as having led Zambia into yet another milestone in the history of the nation as he fulfilled the long awaited promise by assenting to a people-driven Constitution.
In his speech, President Lungu said that the constitution amendment bill had addressed a variety of issues in regard to the demands of citizens including the election of a president with over 50 percent of the valid votes cast and the provision of a running mate to a presidential candidate.
President Lungu also stated that the constitution amendment bill had removed the uncertainty associated with the date of elections, noting that general elections will be held on the second Thursday of August in an election year.
He also said that Zambians would know in advance the successor of the republic President through the running mate should the office of the President fall vacant for one reason or another.
President Lungu further noted that the constitution amendment bill would enhance political stability, a prerequisite for attracting increased levels of investment and improving the business environment in general.
However, 10 months down the line, the Constitution is being revisited. Reason: Any document is only as good as it can be adhered to.
Likewise, a constitution can only be effective if it serves the purpose for which it is intended. It has to be in tune with reality.
That is why Parliament has approved a motion to amend the constitution following a private member’s motion moved by Patriotic Front (PF) Mwansabombwe Member of Parliament Rogers Mwewa to amend the Constitution.
Items for inclusion in the Constitution include reinstating parliamentarians back into councils, the re-introduction of the position deputy ministers, ministers to continue in office after dissolution of Parliament and the removal of 14 days clause after a presidential candidate is declared winner.
We urge parliamentarians to indeed effectively deal with lacunas but to also retain certain clauses that are bound to have a positive impact on Zambia’s socio-economic development.
It will be absolutely important to thoroughly interrogate every proposal before making any decision on all matters such as inclusion of MPs in council chambers.
It is true that a lot of thought went into the drafting and eventual adoption of the Constitution. It is also true that the expectation was that this is a constitution that would stand the test of time.
But it is also true that the Constitution has lacunas that should – in fact must – be removed. There is no need for anxiety that the Constitution is undergoing an overhaul.