FORMER Secretary to Cabinet Dr Sketchley Sacika says Zambia does not need any more amendments to the 1991 Constitution but a completely new document that will stand the test of time.
And Dr Sacika says the Patriotic Front is not being truthful about Constitutional Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2019 as the ruling party is treating the constitutional making process like a party affair when it is supposed to be a national issue.
Speaking to News Diggers, Dr Sacika recounted how successive governments had abused the constitutional making processes to suit their own agendas, “forgetting that a Constitution must be a document that stands the test of time”.
“Bill 10 is a victim of the one party mentality which makes a political party in power think that it has the right to impose its will on the people. This is a wrong attitude when it comes to the issue of making a Constitution. At the Cathedral of the Holy Cross meeting between UNIP and MMD in June, 1991, brokered by the church mother bodies to discuss a multi-party Constitution, it was agreed that whichever political party won the elections later that year would set in motion a process to give the people of Zambia a more durable and people-driven Constitution. That was what was agreed upon,” Dr Sacika said. “But in 20 years of being in power and with two constitution review commissions, the MMD failed to come up with a durable and people-driven constitution. In 1996, President Chiluba rejected 70 per cent of the recommendations made by the Mwanakatwe Constitution Review Commission and went ahead to make a Constitution that suited him and the MMD, incidentally, it was that Constitution that banned comrade KK from contesting the Presidential elections in 1996 because his parents were not Zambians.”
He recalled that efforts by president Levy Mwanawasa to have a new Constitution equally failed despite instituting a review commission.
“Mwanawasa’s efforts through the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission also amounted to nothing. So MMD were in power for 20 years and they failed to make a Constitution. This is the mistake that PF is also making; Constitution making cannot be a partisan affair, it is wrong to turn it into a partisan affair. Constitution making should be a national affair requiring national consensus. Unfortunately, this is the point Mundubile and company are missing. You know political parties that form government come and go. We had UNIP, where are they today? And MMD, where are they? So making a Constitution should never be a partisan affair because political parties come and go, but a Constitution must stand the test of time. So we cannot have a situation where each political party that comes into power tinkers with the Constitution, which is totally unacceptable.”
He said Zambia did not have to continue amending the 1991 Constitution but must simply come up with a new Constitution for the benefit of all Zambians.
“Why are Zambians talking about amending the 1991 Constitution 30 years after the end of one party rule instead of talking about having a brand new constitution that will suit our needs as a multi-party state? It is really absurd that we are proceeding by way of amending the 1991 Constitution. The 1991 Constitution was just a way of facilitating Zambia’s return to multi-party politics, it was not meant to be a permanent Constitution. I can say this because I was part of the discussion at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in 1991. Zambia now needs a Constitution that suits the changes that took place in 1991 when we decided to move away from one party rule to a multi-party democracy,” Dr Sacika said.
“The other point is that the making of a brand new Constitution for Zambia cannot succeed unless it takes into account the recommendations of a special Parliamentary Committee chaired by Henos Haimbe in 1990, which outlined the nature of a government Zambia should have in a multi-party state. Among other things, the Haimbe Parliamentary Committee recommended that Zambia should move away from a Presidential system of government to a Parliamentary system, headed by a Prime Minister. The revolt of the Committee was unanimously adopted by the one party Parliament in 1990 and a copy of the report can be found in the archives of this country. Without changing the fundamental nature of our governance system, no amount of amending the 1991 Constitution will bring about any improvement in how we govern ourselves. The conception of Bill 10 as an amendment is too elementary and we cannot proceed to amend our Constitution on the basis of what is contained in Bill. Bill 10 is purely procedural.”
He said the PF were not telling Zambians what Bill 10 would do for them.
“The Constitution, in order to stand the test of time, must enjoy the widest possible support from everybody because a Constitution is supposed to stand the test of time. Mundubile and others who are pushing the Bill 10 issue are failing to tell the people of Zambia how the Bill will improve our system of governance. All they are doing is politicking and in the process, they are not convincing anybody at all,” said Dr Sacika.