Molding the Zambian Constitution
By ZNBC’s Jeff Banda
The story of the Zambian Constitution is a long one.
It can be traced back to 1968, when first President Kenneth Kaunda called for a referendum and four years later appointed the Mainza Chona Constitutional Review Commission that lead to the introduction of a one party state in 1973.
In 1990, President Kaunda formed another commission lead by Prof Patrick Mvunga.
This commission saw Zambia reverting back to multiparty democracy.
The Constitution process continued in 1993, with second President Frederick Chiluba appointing the John Mwanakatwe Constitutional Review Commission.
This commission did its work but it still had its own challenges.
In 2001, Third President Levy Mwanawasa appointed the Wila Mung’omba Constitutional Review Commission.
This commission managed in December 2005, to produce a draft constitution and report but the whole process was later suspended despite the agreement to adopt the document through a Constituent Assembly.
After this a heated debate and counter accusations followed between the civil society and government a process that ended up in the formation of the National Constitutional Conference in 2007.
The NCC did its work but still raised its own challenges.
After coming into power Fifth President Michael Sata appointed a Technical Committee to draft the new Republican Constitution.
President Sata tasked the committee to refer to the Chona Constitutional Review Commission, Mvunga Constitutional Review Commission, the 1991 Constitution of Zambia, and the Mwanakatwe Constitutional Review Commission Report and Draft Constitution.
President SATA also said the Technical Committee should review the Mung’omba Constitutional Review Report and Draft Constitution as well as the Zaloumis Electoral Reform Technical Committee Report and the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) Report and Draft Constitution.”
The Technical Committee was lead by Former Chief Justice Annel Silungwe.
In all these bodies appointed over time, there has been to a large extent overwhelming consensus by citizens that they want a system whereby a presidential candidate must obtain 50 percent plus 1 of total votes in order to win the presidency.
Many groups, including NGOs and churches, have also been advocating for the Presidential running mate, the dual citizen ship among others.
The constitutional making process is surly a long and demanding process.
But one thing can be said and that is, a step forward has been taken by the assenting to the Constitution Bill by President Edgar Lungu.