This week has seen a lot of interesting discussions especially with the public accounts committee, though nothing has yet been agreed. Three issues stood out:
Central Bank Independence:
BOZ Governor Caleb Fundanga is seeking "operational independence" for the BOZ:
“It is recommended that the draft Constitution should expressly provide for the operational independence of the central bank in its pursuit of the primary objective...Although it has been observed that there is recognition of the relative degree of autonomy of the Bank of Zambia, this is mainly informal and has been attained on account of personalities”
The local governance committee have rejected the Draft Constitution recommendation that Mayors should be elected directly by the people. The reason articulated by Faustina Sinyangwe is just mind boggling :
De-politicisation of local councils:
Contributing to the debate, NCC deputy national chairperson, Faustina Sinyangwe, said that if the mayor were elected by universal suffrage, the office holder would face too much resistance from councillors whom she said were politicians. Ms Sinyangwe said that the current status quo was appropriate and should therefore be left to continue.
The delegates are apparently worried that local authorities are too political! To try and ensure that these politically elected local councils are not political, a new act will be introduced (I think they mean "clause"). Again Faustina Sinyangwe is championing this one.
Show me any local council in any country that is not political. I think they are trying to stop political parties from suspending their councillors! Any hope that they will consider participatory budgeting as a way of involving the people, should be put aside. That would be too mentally taxing for the delegates!
NCC deputy national chairperson Faustina Sinyangwe said in the past, councillors were not necessarily members of a political party but residents of a particular ward. As such, political parties could not interfere in their duties. She was supported by Mr Chrispin Bwali who said the councils fail to perform because of intimidation from political parties.