HONE SIAME, Kitwe
FORMER Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) national chairperson Michael Mabenga has advised members of Parliament (MPs) and councillors who do not have Grade 12 certificates to respect the new law in the amended constitution by working towards acquiring the requisite qualification if they are to contest future elections.
Mr Mabenga said in an interview yesterday that the Grade 12 clause in the new constitution is a progressive piece of legislation which should be respected by all Zambians.
He said it is not too late for MPs, councillors and individuals aspiring to contest future elections to go back to school for them to meet the minimum requirement to contest the local government and parliamentary elections.
He said the Grade 12 school certificate requirement is not discriminatory as claimed by some people but a progressive law that will add value to national governance.
He wondered why some people are against the new legislation when the submission came from Zambians themselves and was adequately debated in Parliament before being assented into law by President Lungu.
â€œThe Grade 12 school certificate requirement for one to stand as a councillor and MP is law which should be respected by all. I would like to urge MPs and councillors who donâ€™t have Grade 12 certificates to go back to school.
â€œI earned my doctorate of philosophy degree in literacy studies and development when I was serving as a minister. MPs and councillors without Grade 12 school certificates should have done that by now,â€ Mr Mabenga said.
He said it is imperative for politicians to prioritise education by taking advantage of their God-given opportunities of serving in higher political offices to upgrade their qualifications to move in tandem with modern education trends for them to ably represent the people and contribute effectively in Parliament.
â€œIt took President Lungu three weeks to sign the Constitution Amendment Bill into law but no one came forward to condemn the Grade 12 school certificate requirement during that period. There is no need to open dialogue on the Grade 12 clause. It has already been assented to into law by the President,â€ he said.
President Lungu has stated that the constitutional requirement for Grade 12 school certificate for MPs and councillors is final and that even if Parliament was to amend the provision, he would not sign it.
Asked if he has any intentions of contesting this yearâ€™s elections, Mr Mabenga said he does not harbour such ambitions but will instead support a political party of his choice.
On political alliances, he said they could work if people going into such arrangements remained sincere to each other.
The former MMD national chairperson called for a level political playing field ahead of the August 11 general elections.
He said electoral laws should be applied to the satisfaction of all players.
He said political violence should not be entertained for Zambia to continue enjoying the peace it has enjoyed since independence.
HONE SIAME, Kitwe