Tag: constitution

SP in government will repeal the public order Act

SP in government will repeal the public order Act Featured

The first law the Socialist Party in government will pass is the repeal of the public order Act.

And there’s no going back on this. There will be no but…

It will not be replaced by any other Act. There will simply be no public order Act or any such other laws. The Constitution has enough protections for public order. We don’t need any other additional laws. We have seen how from the colonial authorities successive governments of this country have abused the public order Act. The worst one being this current regime of the Patriotic Front and Mr Edgar Lungu.

And we don’t want to be part of such injustices and abuses. We believe that the freedom of peaceful assembly enables individuals to express themselves as part of a collective, including by engaging in public marches, protests, pickets and demonstrations. Assemblies can be platforms to advocate for change and for people to raise awareness about the issues that matter to them, whether it relates to human rights or otherwise. Assemblies often also have symbolic importance, such as in commemorating particular events or marking significant anniversaries.

The Socialist Party in government will have an obligation to ensure that the right to freedom of assembly is fully protected, including when those who assemble protest against its policies and challenge it. The Socialist Party in government will not interfere with the right to peaceful assembly simply because it disagrees with the protesters’ views, and will ensure that the right is enjoyed equally by all groups, without discrimination on any ground.

Effective protection of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly will not weaken the Socialist Party’s government; we believe that it will actually strengthen it. It helps foster a culture of open democracy, enables non-violent participation in public affairs, and invigorates discussions on important issues. Public assemblies also help to promote good governance by providing opportunities for the public to hold to account people and organisations with power.

As I have consistently stated, we believe that the exercise of power must be a constant practice of self limitation and modesty. The Socialist Party does not fear criticism because we are socialists, the truth is on our side, and the basic masses, the workers and peasants, are on our side. We have the Marxist-Leninist weapon of criticism and self-criticism. We can get rid of a bad style and keep the good.

Conscientious practice of self-criticism is still another hallmark distinguishing our Party from all other political parties. As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly, our faces will get dirty if they are not washed regularly. Our comrades’ minds and our Party’s work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing. The proverb “Running water is never stale and a door-hinge is never worm-eaten” means that constant motion prevents the inroads of germs and other organisms. To check up regularly on our work and in the process develop a democratic style of work, to fear neither criticism nor self-criticism, and to apply such good popular maxims as “Say all you know and say it without reserve”, “Blame not the speaker but be warned by his words” and “Correct mistakes if you have committed them and guard against them if you have not” – this is the only effective way to prevent all kinds of political dust and germs from contaminating the minds of our comrades and the body of our Party.

If we have shortcomings, we are not afraid to have them pointed out and criticized, because we serve the people. Anyone, no matter who, may point out our shortcomings. If he is right, we will correct them. If what he proposes will benefit the people, we will act upon it.

As we Zambian socialists, who base all our actions on the highest interests of the broadest masses of the Zambian people and who are fully convinced of the justice of our cause, never balk at any personal sacrifice and are ready at all times to give our lives for the cause, can we be reluctant to discard any idea, viewpoint, opinion or method which is not suited to the needs of the people? Can we be willing to allow political dust and germs to dirty our clean faces or eat into our healthy organisms?

At this time of the year in 1898 over 10,000 young Ngonis laid down their lives in our interests, defending our land and minerals from that bandit Cecil John Rhodes and his companies, and our hearts are filled with pain as we the living think of them – can there be any personal interest, then, that we would not sacrifice or any error that we would not discard?

We must constantly criticize our shortcomings, just as we should wash our faces or sweep the floor every day to remove the dirt and keep them clean.

It is hard for any political party or person to avoid mistakes, but we should make as few as possible. Once a mistake is made, we should correct it, and the more quickly and thoroughly the better.

Fred M’membe

President of the Socialist Party

Garden Compound, Lusaka

Third term bid will end up in the Constitutional Court

Third term bid will end up in the Constitutional Court Featured

It is becoming clear that the issue of Mr Edgar Lungu’s third term eligibility will have to be decided by the Constitutional Court. It seems Mr Lungu, in his usual character of not backing down on anything he wants, will file in nomination papers with the Chief Justice to have his name on the ballot paper. I say this because huge volumes of campaign materials with his name have started flowing in. It won’t be easy to change this – the cost of doing so will be gigantic. And last minute presidential candidate changes will throw his party into quandary.

But one wonders where this apparently assured confidence is coming from. The risk is too high to ignore. This means that those determined to stop him from contesting next year’s elections in the belief that it will be a violation of the Constitution will have no choice but to go to the Constitutional Court.

Mr Lungu who says the Constitutional Court cleared him to stand must be ready for this. And, indeed, he seems to be ready, confident and assured all will go his way.

Moreover, all the judges of the Constitutional Court were appointed by him. In 2016, this Constitutional Court came under heavy public criticism over the manner it had ended the election petition against him. And even the court itself was divided over that matter. These are the same Constitutional Court judges who will have to determine Mr Lungu’s presidential candidature in next year’s elections!

Do legitimate issues of public trust, confidence in the Constitutional Court over this matter arise?

All I can say is that an independent and efficient judiciary will be crucial to ensuring that the promises, fundamental values and principles enshrined in the Constitution of Zambia are upheld.
Without an independent judiciary, the Constitution would be reduced to a statement of empty promises.

Every institution has its moments of glory and challenge. The present are moments of challenge when courts have an accentuated duty to become conscious of Constitutional provisions when those in power begin to seek unending dominion. True to their oaths of office, judges must act without fear, favour, affection or ill will, for without an independent judiciary, the Constitution is little more than a statement of empty promises. The democratic credentials of our courts depend on the premise that all individuals are free and equal.

Society will always have someone who will try to manipulate the law to the detriment of society. The solution lies in an ordered, principled and just adjudication. Our judiciary was ultimately trusted with the most important task of all i.e. ensuring that terms of the settlement, or the Constitution, were not breached.

The Constitutional Court is the final interpreter of the Constitution. Together with the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and High Courts are tasked with the highest duty: checking the actions of both the executive and the legislature, each of whom are bound by the Constitution. Considering the enormity of this responsibility, insulating the courts ought to have been a matter of Constitutional design. No court can be expected to perform its checking functions with interference from other branches of Government.

Judicial power should never be a facilitator for executive intentions. On the contrary, it has to be an interrogator or scrutineer of executive power.

These are definitive moments when our courts need to reflect upon their own trajectory, their moral alignments and, most importantly, their duty to enhance hope. This is because our Constitution is supposed to be a document of hope.

Initially, we all hoped that Mr Lungu would do the right thing. With Mr Lungu’s insistence on contesting next year’s presidential elections, now it all rests on the hope that judges of the Constitutional Court would do the right thing.

Fred M’membe
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali

It’s not out hatred, fear of losing but principle

It’s not out hatred, fear of losing but principle

When we say that President Edgar Lungu is not eligible to contest the 2021 presidential elections it is not out of hatred or fear of losing to him.

Even if Mr Lungu was a very weak candidate who could be easily defeated our position does not change – the principle and requirements of the rule of law do not change. We may have chameleon-like politicians but our country’s Constitution does not change in that psychedelic way.

We are saying this simply out of principle, out of respect for the rule of law.

And this does not require very complicated legal arguments. It is a very simple and straightforward matter.

And put simply: Mr Lungu has been elected to the office of President of the Republic of Zambia twice. And he has been sworn in as President twice – serving two terms as president.

The issue of his first term being less than three years does not arise or apply here. It arises when or applies to a person who assumes the office of President as Vice-President, without being elected, when the President dies, resigns or is removed from office for any reason.

Mr Lungu did not assume office as Vice-President and without elections in 2015. He contested presidential elections twice and won.

You can call us all sorts of names, threaten us in all sorts of ways and accuse us of all sorts things but that will not change this reality.

It does not matter what legal gymnastics they will try to play they will not succeed in changing this reality. They can ignore it, but that will not change this reality. They tried to change this reality with Bill 10 but they failed.

We know very well that we are dealing with people who have very little, or no respect, for the rule of law. These are people who are used to getting whatever they want, regardless of what the law says. They don’t seem to realise that the exercise of power must be a constant practice of self limitation and modesty.

But that should not stop us from pointing out the truth or correct positions.

History has taught us that once a government is committed to manipulating the law, the Constitution to get whatever it wants, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of tyranny to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear and silence.

We should not accept to be silenced over this illegality of Mr Lungu’s third term bid.

Fred M’membe

Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali

Third term of office

Third term of office

The third term debate is unnecessary and a waste of time.

There’s no room for a third term under the current Constitution of the Republic of Zambia. Put simply, anyone who has been elected to the office of President twice cannot be elected for a third time. This is the way things stand and it needs no further disquisitions.

Those who thought they could change the Constitution through Bill 10 and give themselves a third term of office should simply accept defeat – their game is over.

There’s need for them to realise there’s no political leader who has had a career that is without its defeats. If we are serious when we talk about influencing the masses, about winning their good will, we must strive with all our might not to let these defeats be hushed up in the musty atmosphere of circles and grouplets, but to have them submitted to the judgement of all. That may appear embarrassing at first sight, it may seem offensive sometimes to individual leaders – but we must overcome this false feeling of embarrassment, it is our duty to the masses of our people and our country.

In this way, and in this way alone, shall we enable all our people – and not the chance assortment of persons in a circle or grouplet – to know their leaders and to put each of them in his or her proper category.

It’s important in politics to avoid being too harsh and stiff-necked and totally refuse to yield.

And yielding is legitimate and essential when the yielder is convinced that those who are striving to make him yield are in the right – in which case, honest political leaders frankly and openly admit their mistake – or when an irrational and harmful demand is yielded to in order to avert a greater evil.

Fred M’membe
Mwika Royal Village, Chinsali

Withdraw ill-conceived NDF Constitution says Dr M’membe

Withdraw ill-conceived NDF Constitution says Dr M’membe

Good morning comrades and friends of our news media!

It’s very clear that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 is not acceptable to the Zambian people.

There are even very serious divisions over this Bill among those who sponsored it.

Therefore, the only reasonable thing to do is to withdraw it. It must be withdrawn immediately.

And we must start the whole constitution review process afresh.

It was very clear from the beginning that their National Dialogue and Reconciliation Forum was not going to work. It is not surprising that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill that has come out of it is not acceptable to our people.

After putting up the so-called National Dialogue and Reconciliation Forum at such a huge cost, we ask:

(i) what type of dialogue took place there and where are its results?

(ii) who have the sponsors of that project reconciled?

NDF was hurriedly put up to undermine a well thought out and well intentioned national dialogue and reconciliation process initiated and led by the Church.

But like all ill-intentioned schemes, NDF has clearly failed and today it is being repudiated even by its very own sponsors; it has become an orphan.

NDF brought together already reconciled people – supporters, sympathisers and friends of those in government.

But of what value is it to try and reconcile the already reconciled?

But as things have turned out, even the glue holding together the reconciled has proved to be not strong enough. Today they are differing, disagreeing with each other over the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 which came out of their resolutions.

What is this telling us?

It is indicating to us that we need to go back to genuine dialogue and reconciliation with each other.

We need to genuinely dialogue, reconcile and build some consensus on a number of issues, including the Constitution, with those we disagree with or even detest.

Is this easy? No. But it has to be done.

This requires effort, humility and good will, without feeling we have the monopoly of wisdom.

It requires tolerance and honesty.

And above all, it requires love for our fellow citizens – because with love all differences, obstacles can be overcome.

After the general disagreements that the nation has witnessed over the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, we urge our brothers and sisters in government to retreat in best order and allow genuine dialogue, reconciliation and consensus building on all serious issues that today divide us.

Let them withdraw this highly divisive and ill-conceived Constitution (Amendment) 2019.

Let’s rise above our differences – political, religious and otherwise – and find other acceptable ways to dialogue, reconcile our differences and build consensus on how to deal with the Constitution and other contentious issues.

Trying to dribble others and emerge as the sweep stake winners won’t win us anything. What we should seek is not a single winner but for us all to be collective winners.

This country deserves more. It deserves a Republican Constitution and not a partisan manifesto disguised as a magna carta.

Let’s save the nation from relieving the nightmare of the last few years which they are trying to wake up from.
We know constitutions are products of special circumstances but not this NDF amendment bill.

We can and shall do better by galvanizing our people and allow them to give birth to a product of national consensus.

Issued by Fred M’membe on behalf of the Politburo of the Socialist Party

July 21, 2019

Garden Compound, Lusaka