Friday, 30 January 2009


By Gershom Ndhlovu


The fundamental problem with Zambia’s constitutions in the last four decades is that they have been tailored to suit individuals, and if not that, they have been made to fix people who appeared to have dissenting views from that of the government in power.

In this on-going constitution-writing exercise, the delegates to the National Constitution Conference (NCC) are going the same way that has forced the nation to write and re-write the constitution several times in the soon to be 45 years of independence.

One of the most curious recommendations that the delegates are intent to include in the constitution is obviously meant to embarrass PF president Michael Sata who has an on-going tiff with a number of his MPs whom the party has “expelled” for defying it over the same NCC which they have clung on contrary to the party’s position.

The recommendation that MPs expelled from their parties should instead serve as independent MPs is not only absurd in its logic, it would simply perpetuate indiscipline among the parliamentarians within their parties knowing fully well that they would retain their seats. Apart from that, the nation would end up with 150 independent members of parliament who, in the unlikely event that they were all expelled from their parties.

But again, this would be one way in which a ruling party would sow confusion in opposition parties by alienating MPs from their own parties and thereby beef up its numbers in the house.

Another vexing issue is that of benefits to a convicted former head of state. Clearly, this issue is being discussed with former President Frederick Chiluba’s on-going court cases in mind. Some delegates argue that in the event that a former head of state is convicted, he should lose his retirement benefits while others say that it would be tantamount to punishing someone twice.

Continuing giving a convicted former head of state gratuity could be likened to the proverbial “having your cake and eating it.” Such a person would be benefiting from two sources of income—the pension and other entitlements from government as well as from the proceeds of crime one is convicted of.

The best option would be for them to lose all the benefits apart from the house built for them if the conviction happens after it has been constructed otherwise they have to lose everything. Such a scenario would discourage any sitting president from dipping their fingers in the national till.

Without exercising objectivity in their constitution writing mission, NCC delegates will come up with a pedantic document which the next ruler who would not agree with it, re-write it and therefore costing the nation more resources that should be used in other areas of need such as infrastructure development or social services.

I wonder if this is what NCC spokesperson Mwangala Zaloumis told the nation about, that the delegates were doing a lot of thinking and deserved even more money in allowances than they are getting now. The political orientation of most of the delegates leaves much to be desired, especially if some of the delegates, like Church leaders who were on one radio station justifying corruption in some circles, are among those writing the national constitution.

Zambia needs a robust but fair constitution that is not targeted at settling some petty political scores between the ruling MMD and opposition parties. The vision and object of the new constitution should be able to stand the test of time, to borrow an overused but overlooked term in the country’s constitution making process.


Is it not sad that diseases such as cholera and typhoid keep breaking out in Zambia’s urban and peri-urban areas? The latest case of typhoid in Wusakile and Chamboli areas boils down to one thing—the use of communal toilets particularly in the D section of Wusakile.

This is the section between Wusakile Basic School and somewhere near the hospital and the A section somewhere near the mine shaft on the way to Chamboli through Nkana Basic School.

Obviously the sanitary state of these toilets leaves much to be desired considering that in the past when these houses where owned by the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM), there were people employed to clean them. I doubt if there is anyone dedicated to cleaning these facilities in which there is very little dignity in using them.

I know for sure that in the past there were no doors to the row of cubicles with the small holes on which people squatted for the call of nature. And for flushing, and that time water was in constant supply, there was a tank at the end that emptied automatically at set times.

It was the same case in Mindolo, but in that township as in some parts of Wusakile, the mine owners at the time demolished most of those one or two-roomed ramshackles and replaced them with properly designed houses which included an inbuilt toilet.

Incidentally, there are still bigger parts of Kitwe, and unfortunately other parts of the bigger cities such as Ndola, Lusaka and Livingstone, not to mention smaller towns and most of the rural areas, where pit-latrines are still in use.

I remember Kitwe’s Kwacha in particular, where a bigger portion of the township still has pit latrines in use which used to get flooded with water rising above the pit-latrines with human waste floating about way back in the 1980s.

It is really a miracle that those days there were no diseases such as cholera which later became endemic in the area. By 1992, cholera was sweeping across most of Kitwe such that then, the authorities were forced to bury victims in mass graves.

For Wusakile residents, two waste removal trucks and unblocking sewer lines may be too little too late. The solution lies in replacing those communal toilets with individual facilities. But the problem is that the houses are in private hands and it boils down to having money—or more likely not having it—for such an exercise by the so-called landlords.





1 comment:

Zedian said...

After 44 years of Zambia being independent, surely it is time to take stock of social, economic and political development.