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Friday, 19 December 2008

NCC Discussion Updates (Diaspora Voting ), 2nd Edition

We previously discussed the NCC rejection of the Mung'omba proposal for Zambians in the diaspora to vote (see - NCC Discussion Updates (Diaspora Voting )). Well the Zambia Centre for Inter party Dialogue want the NCC to look at it again :

ZCID makes a suggestion (ZNBC News, 19/12/08) : The Zambia Centre for Inter party Dialogue has proposed that Zambian's living abroad should be given an opportunity to vote during elections. Centre spokesperson, Langtone Sichone, says this will give Zambians in diaspora an opportunity to chose their prefered leaders. He says there is need for the National Constitutional Conference, sitting in Lusaka, to seriously look at the proposal. Mr. Sichone was speaking during a live National Constitutional Conference programme on ZNBC television.


  1. According to the Times of Zambia, we can all relax because, "there is no doubt that by now, the majority of the people in Zambia are aware that the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) is making steady progress in its resolve to come up with a truly people’s Constitution to stand the test of time."

    Apparently they are "carefully handling" such "vexing issue[s]" as whether or not the Constitution should require presidential candidates to possess grade 12 certificates which are recognized by the sitting government at the time. It is a relief to know that the allowances are being spent productively by those already receiving them, but apparently it is still not enough, as the Times describes, "although the NCC has representation from a very wide cross-section of society, it still needs some input from many other people on various issues which require special attention."

    While requirements for citizenship, financial disclosure, signed petitions and the like are fairly standard for national executive candidates, most of the things which the NCC seems to find "vexing" are probably best left to voters on election days, who are unlikely to have difficulty resolving them. Examples given in the Times include persons who have not lived in the country for ten years or more, persons convicted of corruption, persons who are of unsound mind (presumably a medical diagnosis, not a political one), persons who have been imprisoned for more than three years for a single offense (presumably accumulating equal prison time in smaller increments is acceptable), being found guilty of corruption by any court or tribunal (unclear how contrary rulings by appeals courts apply, unclear if foreign courts or military tribunals count, unclear what constitutes corruption in legal terms and between courts), persons who are undischarged bankrupt or insolvent, persons who have fewer than 200 signed supporters in each of at least 5 provinces prior to the campaign.

    The simplest way to resolve whether or not such persons should be candidates is through democracy and free press coverage of campaigns. If voters are aware that a candidate is broke, illiterate, and certifiably insane, having spent years in prison and been convicted of corruption, with support from only a few provinces and who hasn't even been living in the country recently, then how badly must they hate the incumbent candidate to replace them with that? Is it really a matter for the courts to exclude such persons before the campaign, or to hear appeals of exclusion by electoral authorities? Don't Zambian courts have better things to do and spend budgets on? Because that's what putting these things into the Constitution means, it means they become the Judiciary's problem, to interpret and enforce going forward for all time. My advice is keep it simple, leave the character judgments and morality to the voters, unless this is a jobs program for attorneys.

  2. Yakima,

    "Examples given in the Times include persons who have not lived in the country for ten years or more, persons convicted of corruption, persons who are of unsound mind (presumably a medical diagnosis, not a political one)"


    Perhaps they are worried the public is not well informed!

    The NCC seems to be a complete waste of money.

    Basically Mung'omba and his buddies actually did a good job, barring one or two mistakes which could have easily been corrected within a week.

    It has a few daft things, like prescribing ministers, ignoring religious and cultural heritage of Zambia, and not being more specific on how these new institutions were going to be "empowered".

    But I am sure all of these things would have been sorted out with a week of redrafting.

    Now the whole thing is being re-written. Worse unlike the Mung'omba the people cannot even make proper submissions online. Alas they have no website!!

  3. I forgot to add....

    One of the most foolish ideas I have heard from some trying to enforce internal party displine...

    They want something there to that effect...

    mind boggling indeed...

    But on the issue of diaspora voting...

    I am now of the view that it is probably feasible...

    Postal voting is one way.....if the diaspora are awarded may be five seats...through the seats awarded via proportional we are discussing in the Angolan context..


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