The Patriotic Front government seems too obsessed with the intraparty affairs of the opposition more than they are concerned about upholding the Republican Constitution. Last week, Home Affairs Minister Stephen Kampyongo told Parliament that government would not tolerate opposition political parties that breach the provisions of their own party constitutions.
“It is a requirement by law that any registered political party must, among other things, prescribe how they are going to manage office bearers and how they will change those office bearers at a given time. That’s why we are saying with the Political Parties Bill that is coming, in the case of political parties, there will be strict prescriptions in terms of how people change offices. Going forward, we are not going to entertain political parties who are in perpetual breach of what they have prescribed for themselves in their constitutions, like holding elections,” Honourable Kampyongo told Parliament.
There is no better definition of desperation for power than this. We have also observed that the minister’s statement doesn’t stray away from sentiments made by his even more desperate boss in State House. In the case of President Edgar Lungu, he actually confessed that it hurts him so much when he hears that the opposition UPND doesn’t want to change leadership.
“The constitution says ‘Zambia should be governed by a democratic party which should adhere to democratic values such as regular elections, consultation and so on. But our friends in the UPND want the same candidate who has failed five times. Zambia is not supposed to be condoning dictators,” said President Lungu last year.
That’s sounds like a desperate political party leader trying to expose the bad governance of his rival in State House, whom Zambians must vote out. When he is talking like that, Mr Lungu forgets that he is the sitting Head of State and Mr Hichilema is the challenger. What Constitution does he want Mr Hichilema to uphold? How will it improve the lives of Zambians if the UPND chose another presidential candidate?
Once again, Mr Lungu should not forget that he is the one who breached the Republican Constitution by ordering ministers to stay in office after dissolution of Parliament; he breached the Constitution by declaring himself 2021 presidential candidate before the Constitutional Court ruled on his eligibility and by declaring war if he was disqualified; he refused to hand over power to the Speaker of the National Assembly after the 2016 election was petitioned. The President forgets all this, but is able to always remember that the UPND Constitution demands that they should hold internal elections.
We have told Mr Lungu several times before; Please sir, let the UPND decide who leads them and let the Zambian people choose who leads their country. In our view, that is what matters. If by any miracle Mr Hichilema outwits the PF and becomes President, we the Zambian people will deal with him in State House as the custodian of our Republican Constitution.
But it seems the entire Cabinet is still singing the same song against the opposition. They want opposition leaders to uphold the Republican Constitution, which they themselves are failing to do. They are obsessed with enforcing laws governing the intraparty politics of the opposition while putting the citizens of this country in misery by disregarding the national Constitution. How does that make sense?
How many times have the people of Zambia suffered as a result of the PF’s failure to uphold the Republican Constitution? The law says before Cabinet goes ahead to acquire loans of behalf of the people of Zambia, Parliament should be made aware and approval should be granted by the people’s representatives. Has the PF been following that constitutional requirement? Never! They even have the audacity of arguing that that constitutional provision is not practical, as if they didn’t enact that law themselves.
Right now, there are countrywide protests by public workers; Employees at Legal Aid Board, ZAMPOST, National Housing, Local Government, university lecturers and others are demonstrating against government’s failure to pay them their February and March salaries. What has caused this? Is it not because the PF government was borrowing uncontrollably without Parliament approval? So how can Honourable Kampyongo go to the same Parliament and preach about following the Constitution?
Just the other week, we were writing about the PF failure to uphold it’s own Constitution and manifesto. What moral right do they have to question the internal politics of the UPND, NDC or indeed any other opposition political party?
But we are not surprised with this desperation and failure to govern. This is testimony to the effect that the PF has failed to develop into a government. It has remained an opposition party, keen on fighting others, as if they want to form government. They behave as if UPND is in power and their number one priority is to give checks and balances to it. The PF has completely forgotten about governing, they are simply in power to use public resources to fight the opposition.
This is what happens when you form government without a plan. The PF will continue blaming its bad governance on the ‘bad’ Constitution and blame the bad constitution on the bad opposition parties and civil society. This is why they will continue fine-tuning the Constitution, which they have no plans to implement.
Like we stated in the past, a good constitution is useless to Zambia for as long as the PF remains in power, because the lawbreakers are ruling the country.