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THE E.F.Z SUBMISSIONS TO THE PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEE TO SCRUTINISE AMENDMENT BILL N.A.B 10 OF 2019

THE EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF ZAMBIA SUBMISSIONS TO THE PARLIAMENTARY SELECT COMMITTEE TO SCRUTINISE THE CONSTITUTION OF ZAMBIA AMENDMENT BILL N.A.B 10 OF 2019

  1. PREAMBLE

The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), representing a constituent of the people of Zambia, have reviewed the constitution making process in a bid to give ourselves a constitution representative of the wishes of the majority of the Zambians. The Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission collected views of Zambians across the length and breadth of the nation, consolidating the popular views into a concise document which was the basis of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC, 2007 to 2010). The culmination of these processes is what may be considered as the bedrock on which the 2016 Amended Constitution was laid.

It is noted that the EFZ had taken a position previously, with specific concerns, and decided not participate in the National Dialogue Forum (NDF) based on its earlier submissions to Parliament. However, for the sake of ensuring national cohesion, and for the good of the country, the EFZ General Assembly held on 12th September 2019 resolved to make submissions. Consequently, in view of the significance of this constitutional amendment process that is part and parcel of the promulgation of the law of the land, we have taken a principled stand to make submissions to Parliament on Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10.

  1. CHRISTIAN VALUES AND PURPOSES

The pertinent, yet democratically adopted declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation in the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 2 of 2016, arose from the wishes of well over 80% of those Zambians that made submissions to the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission (CRC), who affirmed their strong desire that this declaration must be enshrined within the preamble of the constitution.

We submit that it is of vital importance to note that the altered verbiage carried through in the preamble of the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 2 of 2016 undermined Christian values in the nation by denoting that Zambia is a multi-religious nation, rather than upholding the originally democratically recommended position of a Christian nation as per submission to the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission (CRC). We further wish to place on record that what we consider as the inconsistent verbiage resulted from amended submissions made by the Technical Committee of 2011, following the National Constitutional Conference of 2007 to 2010, consequently filtering into the Preamble of the assented amended Constitution of 2016.

  1. SUBMISSIONS

We hereby submit the EFZ position on a range of proposed amendments in the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 10 of 2019, which represent pertinent areas of strong opinion from our constituents.

  • Page 3 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #2 proposes to amend the Preamble by deletion of the words “multi-religious” and substituting it with the word “Christian”.

We support this proposed amendment, which is consistent with the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation. This proposed amendment removes the ambiguity and conflicting statement of whether Zambia is a Christian or Multi-Religious nation, while upholding a person’s right to freedom of conscience, belief or religion.

This proposed Amendment No. 2 adheres to a democratic tenet, by respecting and upholding the decision of the majority of Zambians during the Mung’omba Constitution Review Commission (CRC), where more than 80% submissions supported the enshrinement of the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation in the Preamble of the NCC Draft Constitution of 2010. However, the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation was undemocratically supplanted by the Technical Committee of 2011 during the Parliamentary Enactment Process to adopt the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016, when the Technical Committee reinserted the words “multi-religious”, thus creating this ambiguity and inconsistency.

  • Page 3 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #4 proposes to amend the Preamble by deletion of Clause (3) and substituting it with the following: The Republic is a Christian, unitary, indivisible, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-party democratic State.

We support this proposed amendment as it is consistent with the Declaration of our Republic as a Christian nation.

We further propose an amendment of Clause (3) by deletion of the word “multi-cultural” and substituting that with the word “multi-traditional.” This is to avoid the contemporary unbounded meaning of multi-culturalism, which now considers even some subjective personal lifestyle choices as a “cultural orientation”, against the fundamental and long-held understanding of “culture” as generally accepted societal customs, traditions and values.

  • Page 3 Bill No. 10 – Amendment #5 proposes to amend Article 8 by deletion of paragraph (a) and substituting that with the following paragraph: (a) Christian morality and ethics.

WE SUPPORT this proposed amendment as it clarifies and anchors the nature of morality and ethics in the Declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation, and all that the declaration entails, as democratically and constitutionally promulgated by the majority of Zambians. This amendment defines the intended meaning of the kind of morality and ethics being advanced, rather than leaving it to capricious, relativistic and unpredictable interpretation of what morality and ethics are, for a nation that has been democratically and constitutionally declared a Christian nation.

  • Page 4 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #9 proposes to amend Article 47 by deletion of Clause (2) and substituting that with the following: Elections to the National Assembly shall be conducted under a mixed member electoral system, as prescribed.

We do not support the amendment to introduce a Mixed Member Electoral System. In our current majoritarian system, first-past-the-post electoral system, emphasis is placed on Parliamentary candidates’ appeal to the electorates based on their capacity to best represent their espoused constituency, regardless of their political party affiliation. Consequently, in such a system the democratic tenet of free, fair and unrestrained choice of Parliamentarians by voters, whether such voters have political party affiliations or not, is upheld.

In the Mixed Member Electoral System, which combines the majoritarian (first-past-the-post) and proportional (Political Party Lists) systems, introduces and adds a constrained (proportional) basis of choice to certain political party or special interest minority categories, and this unnecessarily and unfairly compels those, who on the basis of their democratic and constitutional right have no particular political affiliation, to vote on Political Party Lines, over and above their unrestrained choice through the first-past-the-post (Majoritarian) system.

Therefore, Article 47 Clause (2) should be maintained in its current status.

  • Page 5 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #13 proposes to amend Article 63 (2) by deletion of paragraphs (d) and (e).

We do not support the amendment to delete Article 63 (2) paragraphs (d) and (e). It is critically important to have checks and balances, through representation by those democratically elected to the National Assembly in order to preserve and protect the interests of national constituencies, when it comes to national debt contraction and signing of international agreements and treaties which encumber upon the citizens of Zambia.

Our view is buttressed by the position taken by the Republics’ monetary gatekeeper, the Bank of Zambia, whose recent submission, in this regard, to the Parliamentary Select Committee reads, and we quote; “It is our considered view that National Assembly oversight is critical over these important public functions in a democratic dispensation like ours. The peoples’ representative in Parliament should have an opportunity to scrutinise the intended purpose(s) of any public debt as well as international treaties which bind and/or imposes obligations on the Republic.”

  • Page 5 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #15 proposes to repeal Article 68 and substituting it with the following: Subject to Article 47, the election, nomination, qualification and vacation of office of a Member of Parliament shall be as prescribed.

We do not support the repealing of Article 68 in its entirety, on the following grounds:

  • The said amendment does not prescribe specific details in respect of the composition of the National Assembly and thus begs the question who will then determine how many members we shall have in the National Assembly?;
  • If the composition of the National Assembly is not specified, it leaves open the capricious and unrestrained multiplication of constituencies by the incumbent political parties, to their advantage, as they map out their electoral strongholds in order to increase chances of their party affiliated members being elected to the National Assembly;
  • Page 5 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #16 proposes to repeal Articles 69, 70, 71 and 72.

We support the repealing of Article 69, 71 and 72 Clause (3). Members of Parliament should be elected by Constituencies and not appointed by the President, as this usually increases the number of Parliamentarians who will align themselves with the appointing authority and not necessarily the electorates or any particular constituency. Since such members of the National Assembly are serving at the mercies of the appointing authority, they may not necessarily take divergent positions to their appointing authority, as the probability may be high of the revocation of their nomination to the National Assembly by their Appointing Authority. That defeats the fundamental purpose of Representative Governance as enshrined in our Constitution, and as one of the pillars of a democratic dispensation.

We do not support the repealing of Articles 70 and 72 Clauses (1), (2), (4), (5), (7), (8) and (9) on the following grounds:

  • If the conditions or requirements, as stated in Article 70, for candidates’ qualifications to be nominated or elected to the National Assembly are repealed, how will members of the National Assembly be nominated and elected. Leaving this unaddressed may create a lacuna in the constitution, which may constantly be referred to the Constitutional Court for guidance at a high cost to the nation.
  • Clauses (1), (2), (4), (5), (7), (8) and (9) in Article 72, which we are supporting, and propose that they are maintained in our Constitution, address the important details of the Vacation of Office as Members of Parliament and the Dissolution of Political Parties. We know that these are possible occurrences in the governance systems of a nation, therefore, to be left undefined may set the nation on the course of unending Constitutional Court litigations, resulting in wastage of national resources.
  • Page 6 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #22 proposes repealing Article 81 and substituting that with the stated new Article 81 Clauses (1) through (10).

We do not support Article 81 Clause (1) which states that the term of Parliament shall be five years commencing from the date that Members of Parliament are sworn into office after a general election and ending on the date of the next general election.

We propose that Article 81 Clause (1) should read as follows: The term of Parliament shall be within five years commencing from the date that Members of Parliament are sworn into office after a general election and ending on the date that Parliament is dissolved.

  • Since there is the possibility of Parliament being dissolved by the President as prescribed in Article 81 Clause (3), it’s just consistent to avoid fixing the term of Parliament at exactly five years, but giving the term range of within five years.
  • Whenever the process of dissolving Parliament is being implemented by the President, prior to the end of the categorically stated five year term of Parliament, there is a possibility of contesting (subtle lacuna) that Clause (1) states categorically that it must be five years, from the date of being sworn into office and ending on the date of the next general election.

We propose that Article 81 Clause (3) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) No. 2 of 2016 should be maintained, for following reasons:

  • The term of Parliament to end on the date of the next general election, gives undue advantage to the ruling political party, who have among Members of Parliament, those serving in Government Cabinet Offices, wielding official government protocols, with government machinery in their favor, on the election campaign trail. It’s just democratically fair, and levels the playing field, when everyone on the election campaign trail, both the ruling and opposition parties, have candidates who are not accessing and wielding government resources and protocols, as they sell their party manifestos and personal capacities to the electorates.
  • Parliamentary Gratuity of a Member of the National Assembly should be paid as long as such a member of the National Assembly actively and officially serves their term of office as prescribed.
  • Page 8 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #26 proposes to amend Article 92 (2)

We do not support Amendment #26 (b) to delete paragraph (c) and substituting that with the following: negotiate and sign international agreements and treaties and, ratify or accede to, or withdraw from, international agreements and treaties on the following grounds:

We support and are consistent with our position as already stated in our proposal made on Amendment #13: We do not support the amendment to delete Article 63 (2) paragraphs (d) and (e). It is critically important to have checks and balances, through representation by those democratically elected to the National Assembly in order to preserve and protect the interests of national constituencies, when it comes to national debt contraction and signing of international agreements and treaties which encumber upon the citizens of Zambia.

Further, we agree with the submissions made by Bank of Zambia to the Parliamentary Select Committee to scrutinize the constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill #10, amendment of Article 63 of the Constitutional Act, and we quote; “It is our considered view that National Assembly oversight is critical over these important public functions in a democratic dispensation like ours. The peoples’ representative in Parliament should have an opportunity to scrutinize the intended purpose(s) of any public debt as well as international treaties which bind and/or imposes obligations on the Republic.”

  • Page 9 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #30 proposes to repeal Articles 101, 102, 103 and 104.

We do not support the repealing of Article 101 for the following reasons:

  • A Coalition of Political Parties that fail to independently garner more than fifty percent of votes cast are considered minority parties that should not circumvent their failure to convincingly garner the constitutionally required votes by imposing themselves on the citizens of a nation, who have democratically and constitutionally decided to have a President with more than fifty percent of the votes cast by the electorate.
  • There is a possibility that the political party with the highest votes, but slightly below fifty percent of votes cast, may form a coalition with some lowest minority political party that has few of the needed votes to push that coalition over the required fifty percent. In such a scenario, that small minority political party may not even be significant or powerful enough to wield authority to guide the stronger coalition partner who garnered a lot more votes than any other party, with the potential of such coalitions disbanding prematurely, causing unnecessary and costly electoral interventions.
  • Page 11 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #30, Article 103(6) proposes extending the election petition period for the President-elect from fourteen days to within thirty days of the filing of such a petition

WE SUPPORT the seven days to file the petition.

WE DO NOT SUPPORT the extension of the petition hearing period and determination for the President-elect from fourteen days to within thirty days, as we consider as an overriding priority, the security of the nation which is of primary importance. The longer it takes for an acting President to hold office, who cannot make full executive decisions of such an office, weakens the security of our nation.

Therefore, our considered view is that the fourteen days is adequate for the Constitutional Court to determine the matter.

  • Page 13 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #36 proposes to delete Article 114 (1) paragraphs (d) and (e).

We do not support the deletion of paragraphs (d) and (e) for the same reasons we gave on Amendment #13: We do not support the amendment to delete Article 63 (2) paragraphs (d) and (e). It’s critically important to have checks and balances, through representation by those democratically elected to the National Assembly in order to preserve and protect the interests of national constituencies, when it comes to national debt contraction and signing of international agreements and treaties which encumber upon the citizens of Zambia.

Further, we agree with the submissions made by Bank of Zambia to the Parliamentary Select Committee to scrutinize the constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill #10, amendment of Article 63 of the Constitutional Act, and we quote; “It is our considered view that National Assembly oversight is critical over these important public functions in a democratic dispensation like ours. The peoples’ representative in Parliament should have an opportunity to scrutinize the intended purpose(s) of any public debt as well as international treaties which bind and/or imposes obligations on the Republic.”

  • Page 13 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #37 proposes to amend by Article 116 by insertion of Clause (4), which states that Subject to this Constitution, a Minister shall continue to hold office until the next general election.

We do not support the amendment for the following reasons: A Minister is in office by virtue of appointment by the President, and they are not elected into that office. Therefore, it would be erroneous to guarantee them a full term until the next general election. If they are a nonperforming Minister, it’s the prerogative of the Appointing authority to terminate their services.

  • Page 13 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #38 proposes inserting of a new Article 117A immediately after Article 117

We do not support the reintroduction of Deputy Ministers for the following reasons:

  • This is a costly and unnecessary proposal, especially in the light of the already declared government austerity measures to reduce on expenditure and prioritize servicing the heavy national debt burden our country is bearing.
  • Permanent Secretaries in all Line Ministries are the rightful individuals to render valuable support to Cabinet Ministers, with the work done through technocrats, who recently are being challenged to perform at a higher professional level in their execution of national duties as Civil Servants. Unless there is evidence that Permanent Secretaries have failed in the delivery of national duties.
  • Page 17 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #53 proposes repealing Article 154

We do not support Article 154 Clause (2) for the following reasons:

The current Constitution gives democratic powers to the electorates to determine individuals who should preside over City Council Business and who manages civic matters of the city on behalf of the citizenry whether political party affiliates or nonpartisan registered voters within the city.

  • Page 20 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #67 proposes to pay a pension benefit promptly and regularly in contrast to existing requirement to pay on the last day

WE DO NOT SUPPORT the repeal of Article 189 in Amendment #67. We therefore propose that it should be maintained the way it is. Pension is an accrual and is an entitlement to someone who has worked. if this provision is repealed, Retirees would suffer and likely face increased poverty. This applies to Retirees of both public and private entities.

  • Page 21 of Bill No. 10 – Amendment #69 proposes to rename the Drug and Enforcement Commission to the Anti-Drugs, Economic and Financial Crimes Agency

WE SUPPORT the newly named functions of Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) but propose, hereby, to keep it separate from the Financial Intelligence Commission (FIC), for complementary autonomy.

However, WE DO NOT SUPPORT the repeal of Amendment #69 to Article 189 for the following reasons;

  1. We note that the FIC subscribes to international protocols and that such international protocols require observance and accreditation to Affiliate bodies by the Financial Intelligence Commission (FIC);
  2. This entails that the institutions’ mandate aligns with applicable international statutes’ requirements, thereby demonstrating the Government’s will for enhanced levels of transparency.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) wishes to tender its gratitude to the Parliamentary Select Committee, for the opportunity to represent a key constituency of the nation. It is our appeal that these proposals, coming from our constituents, will be considered carefully for adoption.

We wish to express unflinching hope for our nation in our quest to work for unity, cohesion of Zambian society, and the healing of the many contentious issues. We emphasize that Zambia is bigger than any single individual. This is a blessed nation that remains a haven of peace for many, from far and near. Additionally, Zambia has been a beacon of hope to the nations and must sustain that legacy for posterity.

To that end, we as a Church remain committed to the faithful propagation of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose eternal love motivates and undergirds our pastoral care and prophetic roles, as we speak for the voiceless.

Finally, we pray for those in authority according to 1 Timothy 2:1-4 which reads, “The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Saviour God wants us to live.” (Message Bible)

AMEN