THE tasks for the Zambian people for the next fifty years are clear and well defined. We must create for ourselves a functional and viable democracy in which substantive constitutionalism will prevail.
This is a democracy in which all institutions of governance including the executive will be answerable to the Supreme law of the land – the constitution.
For the last fifty years we have searched for the establishment of viable working democracy. This has often eluded us. Instead of benefitting from the gains of colonial independence characterized by racism and degradation, our country has lurched from one model of democracy to another often times contrary to the liberal democracy model as defined by the fathers of constitutional democracy.
From independence in 1964 our country descended to a one party regime where individual liberties were seriously curtailed.
There was hope that with the return of multiparty democracy individual liberties and rights would be reinstated. This has not happened. Impunity has persisted with major institutions of governance including the judiciary, police, Anti-Corruption Commission, Drug Enforcement Commission and others being compromised by patronage.
It is evident that the various pillars of governance have lost their institutional integrity giving rise to doubts and serious misgivings from the general public.
Of particular concern is the status of our judiciary. There is no question that whichever regime comes into power in 2016, will have to deal with the status of the judiciary as a matter of priority.
The judiciary is one arm of governance that is pivotal in the assertion of all the fundamental rights of the Zambian people.
As the church mother bodies rightly pointed out yesterday “the public has lost confidence in most of our oversight institutions because of evident interference in their work mainly the executive. It is a mockery of the fight against corruption to see public officers and politicians being pursued for alleged corruption only when they have fallen out of favour with the powers that be. This only legitimizes the public perception that the acclaimed fight against corruption in Zambia is just a weapon used to fight political opponents.”
The Church Mother bodies have not minced their words. They have questioned the capacity of the Legislature and Judiciary in Zambia to offer effective checks and balances over the Executive.
This they have charged has led to doubt and loss of confidence in these institutions. “Serious reforms are needed to restore the autonomy and effectiveness of these institutions. As Church, we cannot see how this is possible without serious Constitutional reforms.”
There can be no clearer roadmap for the future than the one enunciated by government.
Our most immediate agenda is to strengthen our institutions of governance. These institutions must be above political exigency.
Unless this is done we shall continue to search in vain for a model of democracy that will serve our interest as a developing nation that is determined to break the barriers of poverty, poor governance and perpetual cycle of corruption and abuse of resources.