PRINCE Akashambatwa Mbikusita Lewanika says even if there is a good constitution in place, if a country has leaders who lack integrity, the people are not safe.
And Aka says it would be better for Zambia to go back to the first constitution and examine every piece of change that has been made, one by one, in order to determine if the current proposed amendments are good for everyone.
Speaking at the “Zambia We Want Seminar”, Saturday, Aka said the country should take the warning of having leaders who do not have integrity seriously.
“I would like to comment on the systems of governance. Let us look at the real causes. The issue of a federal or unitary state may not be the root cause. We heard that even if you have a good constitution, if your leaders do not have integrity, you are not safe. That, I think is a good warning that we should take. But as we looked at the optional system, it seemed that we focus on whether it should be a federation, should it be a devolution. Which means that we agreed that whatever this was, whether it was a unitary state or whatever, it was what we have had up to. Now, the judgment is unanimous that it has performed poorly and adversely and dangerously and threatens the very existence of Zambia,” Aka said.
Aka said members of parliament were not voting for the constitution using their conscience and knowledge but that they voted on party lines.
“Where a constitution can be discussed by members of parliament, when even the party whip is not removed, what does the party whip not being removed mean? When the MPs are not even free to vote according to their conscience and their knowledge, where the MPs are voting along party lines when not voting along party lines can kick you out of parliament,” he said.
Aka suggested that the best way forward was to go back to the first Zambian constitution and examine every piece of change that had been made so far.
“The way forward, we are better off going back to that first Zambia constitution and examine every piece of change that has been made one by one and decide whether it was in favor of everybody or whether it is in the spirit of wina azalila (somebody will cry) or whether it is in the spirit that all of us will rejoice. Whether it empowered us or disempowered us. We heard one of the last changes was the 2016, one over the Anti-Corruption (Commission) all those things we should detect them thoroughly one by one so that we can clean up as we move,” he said.
Meanwhile, Aka said the uncorrupted African systems were democratic, not dictatorial.
“All our traditional governance systems if they are not corrupted have the same characteristics. Chitimukulu, Litunga, Undi, they are not one man shows. The Bashi Lubemba can he make a decision as Chitimukulu? Would he have survived the onslaught from (Michael) Sata alone without them? Why is Litunga so quiet? He gets attacked every day. There is a gentleman called Ngambela he keeps going left, right to answer on him, why? Because that is our system of governance, it is not a one man show. Some people think that when they become dictators they are actually being African, it is not true. The African system was democratic. It was based on consensus and collective decision making. When we cast away our African system, those are the good things we are also casting away and making room for personalized leadership, unaccountable leadership,” he said.
“One of the greatest privileges I had was to stay the whole day with the last Gawa Undi and discuss African systems and we all agreed that it’s one system, it is the same system. A democratic system. In the design of the Zambia you want, the Africa you want, I am not asking you to completely turn your backs on these colonial countries you have now begun to love and get used to but please, within their renewed version, don’t discard African tradition, please. When we propose that in the Zambia you want, you are also going to continue to marginalize and subordinate traditional Africa, I am not with you because I am proud to be an African.”
Lewanika said being in leadership did not mean stealing from people.
“How do African tradition choose leaders? Do the would-be leaders go round saying ‘choose me. If you choose me I will build you a bridge. I am better than this one?’ African leaders are not chosen on the basis of personal popularity, on marketing themselves, on bribing their way. Later on, on killing people to make room for them to be president. Those are easier to do in these modern systems, very difficult to do in an African system. The number one disqualification for leadership in our tradition and I say ours as a pan African, in our African tradition is to see an individual who wants to be leader. Because for you to want to be a leader, you should be suspected of not knowing what you are talking about,” Lewanika said.
“Leadership is giving up your individuality in service of society, it is not a pleasure, it is not a money asking position. It is not a position to be stealing from. It is an honorable position, you cannot refuse it but you do it knowing that it costs your person. Even the ceremony of choosing leaders, when a headman is picked, he goes through the motion.”
Meanwhile, Aka said he was shocked that some public officials donated huge sums of money.
“I was quite embarrassed one day. I was coming from Kalabo to Lusaka. I was shocked that a minister stood at some project and said ‘from the President, I am donating K50,000 and from my own pocket I am donating K25,000.’ And the natives clapped. I was still shocked when I arrived in Lusaka and when they asked me to speak about corruption, I said “that nigger should be arrested’ because all of us have extended families doesn’t he have even nephews who have no shoes? And then it is not the only project he had been donating I heard he had donated in Luapula. So I made a mistake of mentioning his name and I hoped that the newspapers wouldn’t print his name. But fortunately, he has been arrested so it is now public knowledge,” said Aka.