Yesterday, we reviewed Article 52(6) of the Republican Constitution, which the Justice Minister says is very dangerous and extremely toxic. We demonstrated through our editorial opinion that this provision in the law is actually more advantageous to the ruling party as things stand, something which Honourable Given Lubinda did not probably realise.
But today, we want to look at the flip side of the coin and imagine that this law is indeed bad for the country. The question is, where did it come from and who allowed it to be part of the Republican Constitution? To answer this, we need to look back at the process that was followed when amending the Constitution in 2016.
We all remember as citizens that these provisions were debated and agreed upon by Honourable Lubinda and his fellow ministers as well as PF members of parliament. They did not fall from the sky and they were not imposed by anybody from the opposition. These are the provisions which their Technical Committee came up with after touring the whole country.
We recall that the Technical Committee that drafted these provisions went to all District and Provincial Assemblies to consult the people on these recommendations. The provincial officers made comments, and, based on those comments, they arrived at the final draft which was taken to Parliament for approval. They said that is what the people of Zambia decided that it should be.
So it is sad that the very people who brought us the changes in the Constitution were making efforts to reverse the changes by enacting Bill 10. It is sad that they are creating a narrative that the failure to enact Bill 10 will make Zambia ungovernable. The people of Zambia must not be fooled by these tricks from Honourable Lubinda. All they want to do is change the law to serve their interests.
Now Honourable Lubinda needs to be informed that the Constitution is not a document that is meant to please individuals. If he feels there is one provision that he doesn’t like, that is normal because there are other provisions he likes, which other people find toxic and dangerous. That is the nature of the Constitution. If you give that same document to UPND to remove what they don’t like, several provisions of the law will be struck out. So it means if the PF want to use their government influence to enact laws that specifically please them, the UPND or any other party that forms government will want to do the same.
We can’t have a situation where any party that gets into government wants to have their own tailored Constitution. What kind of country are we going to remain with if we allow that? A Constitution is meant to stand the test of time and once it is put in place, it is and it must be binding on everyone else, whether you like it or not.
But there is something else we need to find out from the PF. Where were they in 2016 when the Constitution amendments were being proposed and debated? When Minister Lubinda starts to single out clauses in the Constitution that he can now describe as “very dangerous, extremely toxic” he is basically telling us that he did not know what he was doing when he was pushing for the 2016 amendment. It means he didn’t read what he was advocating for then. Now, if that is the case, then it is him who is a very dangerous and extremely toxic minister, not Article 52 (6) of the Constitution.
You cannot begin to shoot down your own product and expect people to foolishly tolerate your inefficiency. If they didn’t like what the Technical Committee drafted, why didn’t they change it? At what point did Honourable Lubinda discover that Article 52 is very dangerous and extremely toxic? Zambians should not allow the PF and its ministers to be playing ping pong with the Constitution.
All the changes made to the Constitution in 2016 were debated in the National Assembly and Minister Lubinda was there, but he never said a word against this Article 52 which he is complaining about today. So what has triggered his desperation to change the law which he approved just four years ago?
The problem that the PF officials have is that they don’t respect the Constitution. They are the architects of this Constitution and all the changes made in 2016 were made on their watch. They even bragged that they had done what no other party had succeeded to do before and made it a campaign issue. So where is the desperation coming from?
Honourable Lubinda must know that this is not a party document, it’s not like the PF constitution which he can change willy-nilly; it’s a national document and if one wants to change it, they need to build consensus with the people, not consensus among government employees who drive GRZ vehicles with flags.
Bwana Lubinda, you gave us the Constitution in 2016, it’s done! If it has come back to haunt you, don’t drag the rest of the country in your mess. Deal with it!