Our worst fears have come to pass

Like the Oasis Forum we have also come to realize that the promise of a 90 day effort towards the realize a people driven constitution, made by the Patriotic Front  was nothing more than a campaign promise intended to win votes.

Many people feared and warned against this eventuality as they predicted that the PF could not be trusted once in power.

Sadly the majority of Zambian who took the promise as a genuine undertaking, the realization that the Patriotic Front had no intention of passing a new people driven constitution will come as a rude shock. The 90 day promise was a ruse, an empty campaign promise intended to win votes.

It was a promise that was ditched soon after the party ascended to power on the realization that a new constitution would work against their prolonged stay in office.

The PF has even ditched the promise to mount an aggressive anti corruption campaign. The moral and ethical bar has not been lowered, it has been abolished as an inconvenience. Sacred cows will get away with anything without as a much as the proverbial slap on the wrist.

The dramatic and shocking u-turn on the constitution is perhaps the most visible and palpable failure of the PF  to honour its campaign promises to the electorate.

The worst insult is for Patriotic Front Secretary General to pontificate that the constitution was not a priority because Government had more pressing issues such as developing rural areas in order to stem urban migration.

As if to rub salt in the wound Kabimba  almost mirroring the words of President Sata rubbishes aspect of the proposed constitution by stating that  the demands for a 50+1 and running mate clauses were dangerous because of experiences elsewhere.

He wants Zambians to learn from others who have apparently experienced problems with these clauses. Who are the others? Zimbabwe? Where President Robert Mugabe has refused to accede to the will of the people?

This is rather simplistic reasoning as rightly observed by the Oasis forum. Zambians are fully aware that most African leaders are not prepared to leave office. They prefer one past the post because it can be manipulated very easily. More importantly this is a system that allows for minority rule.

Zambians want a system that will produced a President with the widest possible mandate.

That is why it is important to note that the constitution is not about the Patriotic Front. It is about the people of Zambia giving to themselves a constitution that will last the test of time, a constitution that will embody the democratic principles that were envisaged in the 1991 campaign for a multi party democracy.

At that time Zambians wanted to give to themselves a constitution that ensured that the people remained supreme and leaders were servants of the people. They did not want to repeat a situation where the political leadership assumed a life of its own to ignore the wishes and concerns of the people.

Indeed while in opposition President Sata acknowledged that the constitution in its present form was obsolete and defunct for among other things giving the President too much power which could be abused.

It was in fact the President himself who made the promise freely and voluntarily because he realized the failings of the current constitution.

The demand for a new constitution is neither perfunctory nor cosmetic, it is a deep seated desire founded on the realization that unless a country has strong building blocks as evidenced by the various arms of governance, democracy would be illusory as the executive would not only dictate but in some cases undermine the population.

It is understandable that the executive is not keen on the new draft which appears to take away power and privilege, but the reality is that the majority of the people want a smaller Government that will respond to the people’s wishes rather than to its own making.

It has become obvious that Government is not interested in  a new constitution but the people of Zambia are.

Something has to give- certainly not the people.