Civil society organisations came out in droves this week (see Quotes) to condemn what they see as government’s hidden agenda to amend the already-amended constitution (see Fact Box). Last week parliament voted to recommend to remove several clauses, including the 50%+1 system for election of a president, the vice-president being elected as a running mate, the 14-day window before swearing in a president after election (apologies, last week we wrote 7 days), and MPs not being members of councils. The vote was triggered by a private motion moved by PF MP Rodgers Mwewa. However, as the PF enjoys a majority in parliament, the whole thing was perceived as government pulling the strings.
When Lungu was sworn in for his first term in January 2015, he promised: “I want to hand you a new constitution. We will definitely release a people-driven constitution.” And when he assented to the new constitution in January 2016: “Today as a people, we have an opportunity to make history. Today provides a momentous occasion for us as a nation. Zambians, here is our new constitution and a beginning of a new era!”
This week, Lungu stated: “The constitution is a sacred document, sacrosanct, but if you find that it is not working for you, you go back to the people; you go back to the makers, and say ‘this is not working’. And I can tell you that there are no better people to guide us on the constitution than the makers in parliament,” he told the Daily Mail.