We are praying very hard and perhaps hoping against hope that we misunderstood Vice President Guy Scott when he suggested that the Executive were not prepared to reach an amicable settlement with the opposition over the constitution making process.
If we in fact understood him correctly, then we can expect more disquiet not just in Parliament but the rest of the country because there is tremendous anger among the people in the manner the constitution making process has been handled.
The statement by the Vice President is an open declaration of a dispute or indeed war between the executive and the people of Zambia. It is a dispute that is unnecessary and uncalled for, but it is a dispute that will have very far reaching ramifications.
Already the Law Association of Zambia has warned that unless the President and his Cabinet stop trivialising the constitution process they can expect more pressure from the public, civil society and indeed the church.
Our understanding was that Speaker Dr. Patrick Matibini, in an attempt to obviate this eventuality had reached an agreement with both sides for interparty dialogue this coming tuesday to resolve the impasse which threatens to split our country.
Instead of moving forward we fear that the executive will decided on a confrontational stance in the hope of challenging and perhaps intimidating the opposition into submission. The use of Paramilitary in the precincts of parliament has been alluded to.
It will indeed be very sad if the opposition will be forced into another “manifestation “in their demand for a road map.
There is absolutely no need for confrontation in this very straight forward matter in which the church, civil society and indeed ordinary Zambians have spoken clearly and candidly that the country needs a new constitution. Indeed President Sata himself was a proponent of the new constitution while he was in the opposition.
The people of Zambia were promised a new constitution within 90 days.
It is understandable that the executive is reluctant to enact a new constitution for the obvious reasons that some of the provisions including the 50+1 does not sit well with the executive. This is understandable, given the growing disillusionment among the electorate which may not bode well for the future prospects of the party.
This, however should not be the reason for undermining an entire constitution process that has raised the hopes of the Zambian and which document has consumed huge amounts of money.
The constitution by its very preamble is a document that the people give to themselves to control the affairs of state in the best interest of all.
Zambians want a constitution that will ensure that the Judiciary is fully autonomous from the control of the executive which is the case presently. It is clear that appoints into the Judiciary are not done in the most transparent and open manner possible and even when appointed those serving are always aware of the sword of Damocles that hangs over their heads.
As rightly pointed out by Hon Jack Mwiimbu the current system can only be rectified by a constitution that will serve all the people. We must have a judiciary that will protect the interests of all the people including the people currently serving in Government.
Under the present system chances of partiality are very high or are perceived to be high because of the interference and most of it overt that is exercised by those in office and their friends.
It is common knowledge that friends of the system are reported to have played a major hand in some appointments. This perception may be wrong, but it is there and must count for something.
As our democracy blossoms and matures, we obviously need a new constitution that will ensure that such perceptions are allayed. All Zambians must stand before the law as being equals with none enjoying any special benefits.
That is why we also agree with the admonition to new Judges made by Parliamentarians that the bench should not be seen as a reward by sponsoring members of the executive or friends of the executive. Zambians expect Judges to be impartial and with full allegiance to the law.
The starting point of good governance and especially prevalence of the rule of law will only be assured if the constitution is robust enough to ensure that all citizens are equal, the present constitution promotes inequality by ambiguity deliberate distortion and in some cases by elevating individuals above the law.
That is why it has become imperative that a new constitution is enacted to provide for inadequacies that have become obvious and apparent with passage of time and experience with the current constitution.
The irony of politics is such that, those in power today will leave office either by the ballot or otherwise and will seek solace in the law.