Constitution Quagmire

The demand for a new constitution must be taken seriously by the government or face the threat of prolonged conflict with citizens and especially civil society that has now promised to undertake rolling civil action to demonstrate anger, apprehension and resolve to pressure government into releasing the draft constitution.

The first step in picketing parliament is a signal of what is likely to come in the future as more groups and institutions get involved in the demand for a new constitution.

What is clear at present is that government appears reluctant to establish a clear roadmap that will provide for a transparent process with inbuilt checks and balances that will ensure the enactment of a people driven constitution that will stand the test of time.

Several attempts at creating a new constitution have been made and have invariably floundered with political will failing when critical areas demanding power sharing or its mitigation have arisen.  The post one-party state constitution invariable centered around the creation of a multiparty democracy and subsequent abolition of hegemony by political oligarchs.

That constitution served its purpose and saw the country attain a multi-party democracy without embodying  a number of salient issues that previous constitution making teams had included.  Most of these had to do with powers of the president and executive in general in relation to the other pillars of governance.

It is clear that our constitution gives the president too much power overriding the role and place of the judiciary and legislature to the extent that the Presidency has overbearing influence over the judiciary as an example.

This means that the President can appoint and remove judges at will as has been the case recently.  This puts the judiciary at a great disadvantage thereby undermining its role as an impartial and independent body are not only undermined but negated to a very large extent.  Security of tenure for constitutional office is an important element that ensures stability, continuity and therefore integrity.  Without integrity the judiciary will not enjoy the confidence of the public thus losing a vital element that must guide and uphold democracy.

That is why it is important that a new constitution that takes account of this and many other failings is put in place to ensure that our democracy is fully supported and upheld by structures that are well founded on the constitution and not on the good will of individuals who may or may not subscribe to democratic ideals.

Democracy as a practice is the compromise of competing ideas and aspirations as demanded by political activism therefore conflicts will arise and these must always be resolved to serve the best interests of society or community.  But this is not possible if the constitution will give overbearing power and influence to one side of the equation in the political sphere.