Dr Canisius Banda has opposed the proposal to change the name of the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) to Anti-Drugs, Economics and Financial Crimes Agency (ADEFCA), emphasizing that “let the DEC be DEC and let the FIC be FIC”.

And Dr Banda says it is healthy to have serious debate around the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 because it is a national issue of interest among Zambians.

Dr Banda told News Diggers! in an interview that Financial Intelligence Centre director general Mary Chirwa “might have a cogent point” to question the reasons for the proposed change of name by the DEC and wondered why the drafters of the proposed changes have not clearly indicated the reasons.

“The proposed change to the Drug Enforcement Commission and its partner institutions such as the Financial Intelligence Centre, Mary Chirwa, the [director general] of the FIC, might have a cogent point. Why change something whose reason for changing it you have not stated or illustrated? And in the case of the FIC, why fix it when it isn’t broken? The status quo must remain, let the DEC be the DEC and let the FIC be the FIC. The advantage of the status quo is that each institution, specialising in its own mandates, confers clarity of vision, function and focus in the performance of their respective roles. If it is the case that one institution is performing below par, then the required strengthening ought to occur as merely changing the name and merging the two might not be the right prescription and remedy,” Dr Banda argued.

And Dr Banda said the Constitution Amendment process was such a blessing to Zambia because “for once, the country is undertaking a process in which everybody has an opinion”.

He said although the process might not give the nation what it desired, it was healthy for the country because citizens must debate over their own existence.

“The emergence of the Constitution Amendment Bill No 10 on Zambia’s governance platform has already yielded fruit. Although the end to this process may not give us a perfect nation, it will certainly take us closer to it. In a somewhat unprecedented fashion, the scope and depth of debate that has sprung from this Bill can only be summed up as a priceless national thing, as the required process for the evolution of a nation. This Bill has shown the stark duality of democracy, both its idiocy and value. Democracy indeed can produce both anarchy and unity. A wise leader then harnesses the moment appropriately. That there isn’t a hundred per cent consensus on any of the Bill’s protean clauses is as it should be, clearly illustrating the rich diversity of opinions amongst citizens,” said Dr Banda.

“In an amazing and befuddling turn of events, today, on some clauses, we have the ruling party in support of what the opposition wants, a development which has left the opposition a tad confused. For instance, the opposition is at pains to believe that the ruling party can oppose something itself gave birth to pr produced, as they allege. In the end, let the debate continue. The winner in all this is the now increased awareness amongst citizens in matters for their own governance. By and large, even after much of this debate, a number of clauses that will be amended will remain flawed. Whatever happens, after the Amendments are done, this process will give a Republican Constitution which will still be less than perfect, a stilled flawed one which will in future require more debate, and more refinement. That is how societies evolve.”

Dr Banda also supported the re-introduction deputy ministers under a reduced expenditure load but with improved performance.

“Felix Mutati has a point, we can still have deputy ministers but with a reduced expenditure load on one hand, and improved performance on the other hand. For example, it is possible, inspired by austerity and performance, in Zambia to have only ten cabinet ministers each representing a Province. When you include their deputies, the Republican President and his Vice, plus the Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance as stand alone Ministries, the total number of cabinet positions, including deputies, would only be twenty-five. This Constitution Amendment Bill No 10 is akin to governance putty from which can be moulded any legal road map for national behaviour. And the task in our Presidential system of government is squarely on the Republican President,” said Dr Banda.

“When all is said and done, the Republican President His Excellency Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu should be made to account for his words, for when opening Parliament, he said, ‘if you do not want to refine the constitution with us, we will do it for you.’ These words of his clearly reminds the citizen that truly the buck stops with him. This is the way things are at present. Whatever happens, in the end, the responsibility for it, the outcome, will entirely be his, Lungu’. And then citizens’ judgment soon comes. We urge the Republican President to continue, in his own way, to lead. ‘Refine it’, man! Sometimes, it is when seeking, we get lost, that eventually, we find our way. So it is that we must remain, as a collective of citizens, in pursuit of a perfect nation. We will flounder along the way, but, in the end, we will get there. And this current Constitution Amendment Bill will surely not give us that perfect nation.”