President Nelson Mandela will go down in history as a man of great integrity.
Several times he spoke out against sycophancy and those who revered him unquestioningly. He reminded them that he was simply human, prone to mistakes and errors and therefore in need of correction and admonition.
It was his determination to forge a negotiated transition to democracy that earned him global adulation. He chose negotiations with his perceived enemies to avoid the much feared eventuality of bloody civil war that the Afrikaners predicted in event of black majority rule.
To his fellow black South Africans he preached the message and spirit of reconciliation, much to the annoyance of extremists who would rather the whites were driven into the ocean.
South Africa may not be a perfect state, but the legacy of Mandela has allowed tolerance of divergent views including a multi party democracy that that is vibrant, dynamic and the envy of the rest of Africa where regionalism, schisms and divisions have wrought havoc to statecraft.
It was such a joy to see long queues of citizen’s line up to cast their vote in yesterday’s elections. Citizens of all colors stood patiently to make their voice known. Among them were the born frees, children born after apartheid who had little experience of apartheid.
But perhaps more important was the presence of the many Boers who had expected a blood bath in the event that Nelson Mandela passed on and his legacy died with him.
No such eventuality has occurred because South Africa unlike most African countries has a robust and sound constitution to which all individuals and parties have an equal claim in the event of seeking redress.
The highest court in the land the constitutional court has the mandate to preside over all contentious issues some of which are against the government, the ruling party and indeed top echelons within government. This court has gone as far as nullifying appointments made by the President where the nominee has been found to be unsuitable and lacking in integrity.
It is against this background that citizens can rely on the protection of law and not on the benevolence and good will of those in leadership.
That is why Zambians want a similar constitution which will ensure that this country regards all citizens as equals and therefore amenable to the law and the dictates of the rule of law.
It is disheartening that very often wrong doing on various levels is accommodated even when it has been demonstrated that a malfeance of grave proportions has taken place.
Unfortunately we do not have a strong ombudsman’s office and an accompanying strong constitutional court to enforce the law and ensure that differences are resolved within the confines of law rather than on the basis of political privilege and favour.
We hope Zambia can soon have a constitution that will create an appropriate framework to safeguard our hard warn independence.