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Monday, 26 January 2009

NCC Discussion Updates (Foreign Missions, MPs, Presidential Health and Salaries)

A couple of belated updates on various NCC issues, in the last week or so.

The Legislative Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) last week rejected a proposal that appointments of ambassadors and high commissioners be subjected to parliamentary ratification. Among the reasons put forward is this mind boggling reason by Mr Mwaanga :

“Yes, that is the system that America uses when it appoints diplomats in foreign mission, the Senate will ratify the appointments but you should understand that here in Zambia, we belong to the Commonwealth which does not follow that system..."

As if that was not bad enough, the group also proposed that MPs should keep their seats in event of expulsion from their parties. A measure clearly designed to encourage defections from opposition parties. To be fair other nations have a similar system, most notably Britain. Except Britain's democracy has evolved over centuries, ours is more like a toddler learning to walk. We have previously touched on this issue - see Monkey business….

In competition for folly, the Executive Committe was not going to be outdone. It quickly rejected the establishment of the Emoluments Commission to determine salaries and allowances for the president and other constitutional office bearers, saying that would be costly on government. Are you sensing the drift?

Well, atleast they had the sense to let parliament to ascertain the health of a sitting President. Clearly the the uncertainty surrounding LPM was too much for many to take. Or may be they knew Parliament is weak anyway.

The NCC deliberates (ZNBC News, 20/01/09): The Executive Committee of the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) has resolved that parliament should be mandated to ascertain the health of a sitting President to continue holding office. The members agreed, that with one third majority, members of parliament should initiate a motion through the speaker to remove the President from office on medical grounds.

Committee members said in Lusaka on Tuesday that within 14 days after the motion has passed through parliament the speaker should request the chief justice to constitute a team of medical experts to examine the health of a President. The members said within seven days of the appointment of the medical committee the President should appear before the doctors failure to which they would constitute a ground for impeachment. During the debates commissioner, Daniel Monkombwe, argued that cabinet would not be the best group to determine whether the health of the President should be scrutinized. He said this is because cabinet members are Presidential appointees who may be victimised in the process.

Commissioners Richard Kapita and Ernest Mwansa fully endorsed the proposal for parliament to initiate the impeachment process on medical grounds. Reverend David Masupa also supported the proposal citing parliament's role of offering checks and balances to the executive. And Committee Chairperson, Michael Mabenga has appointed a sub committee to scrutinize the proposals for parliament to be mandated to initiate inquiries into the President's health.


  1. This? This is what we've all been waiting years for? 500-odd card sharps collectively acting to stack the deck of future government in their favour? Indeed many of these statements would be comical if they did not apparently represent the majority of opinion within the NCC.

    I can think of few worse arguments to put forward in the process of constitutional reformation than Mr Mwaanga's. Isn't the entire point to examine whether or not the way things are currently done is better or worse than the alternatives? Simply reiterating the fact that things are currently done a certain way rather defeats the purpose, no? Not to mention the question of whether or why the Commonwealth should care whether or not Zambian ambassadors have been ratified and how? What could possibly be more a matter of national sovereignty than the appointment of ambassadors? Does the transcript say whether or not anyone laughed when he said it?

    So if MPs expelled by parties get to keep their seats, what about the proposed 50 (Fifty!) MPs to be appointed by the Executive in order to ensure that "interest groups" are sufficiently represented alongside democratically elected ones? It is all genius really, one vote per person, unless the executive finds you interesting, at which point you get two votes, or maybe even more if you can manage to be interesting in more than one way. I suppose the voters had better start studying up on the hobbies and pastimes of presidential candidates now, so that they will know how to position themselves to appear interesting after the election is over. With 20% of MPs in his pocket, it would require 63% of the elected MPs to successfully disagree with him. They have re-invented the Constitutional Big Man, what a surprising decision for an appointed committee!

    Commissions that restrain the runaway cost of government are too expensive to implement. Sorry, just can't parse that sentence with a straight face. Coming from a person collecting a "sitting allowance" in a five hundred person body, it is liable to make me fall out of my chair. Perhaps Daniel Munkombwe (Southern Province Minister. That means he's an unelected appointee doesn't it?), would be better satisfied by a simple formula to determine emoluments arbitrarily without the cost of a commission? Perhaps something simple that everyone can understand, such as ten times the average household income in the nation? How would that compare with what he is taking now?

  2. Mwaanga has been in every govt since independence. And these govts have messed up the country in every way you can think of. My question to Mwaanga is: when are you going to say to yourself..."ENOUGH with my dishonesty"?

  3. And why is no one visiting the NCC website?

    I seem to be the only one who has so far posted on their website. See the

    NCC Forums

  4. MrK,

    Because it is not friendly to use.

    They should have just created a simple blog. Its cheap to maintain and easier to access.

    They have K50bn and they don't even have a functioning website. Shocking.


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