A couple of updates from the NCC proceedings as reported in the media in the past two weeks :
Vice Presidents : The Executive Committee abolished the idea of Presidential bye-elections. They concluded that the Republican Vice President should be sworn in event of the President being unable to continue. The same committee had earlier concluded that it was not necessary to have a presidential running mate. So we have the prospect of an unelected Vice President becoming a President. This opens room for an in-house coup where the President could be "forced" to vacate office, with the next leader being legitimate provided that leader was the incumbent Vice President. It also reduces the incentive for presidential impeachment because the same party is guaranteed to hold the Presidency, regardless of the outcome. Potentially the resolution is a recipe for colossal mismanagement and national instability.
Provincial Ministers - The Executive Committee proposed that provincial ministers should be part of cabinet, in line with Article 150 of the Mungomba Draft Constitution, which states that "there shall be a cabinet consisting of the President, Vice-President, Ministers and provincial ministers". At the moment the cabinet excludes provincial ministers. The idea appears to be that Executive Committee Chairman Michael Mabenga ( who also happens to be the MMD Chairman) argued that this move ensures "that provincial ministers have those powers to make important decisions for the benefit of people in their respective provinces”. As previously stated, my view remains that provincial ministers are pointless. They have no regional autonomy, they are unelected and above all they have no policy levers. As my friend pointed out to me recently they are only useful to the ruling party during campaign time. But there's a broader point here : the continued obsessions with the constitution defining ministries - it should be up to the President to define these ministries as conditions change subject to Parliamentary approval as recently suggested.
Religion : The General Principles Committee rejected the Mung’omba Draft Constitution declaration that Zambia is a secular state (Article 8). The new preamble now reads “We, the people of Zambia in exercise of our constituent power; ACKNOWLEDGE: the supremacy of God Almighty; DECLARE the Republic a Christian nation while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person’s freedom or religion; UPHOLD the human rights and fundamental freedoms of every person.” Regular readers will be fully aware that I support this declaration and my reasoning is set out at Draft Constitution Special - Part 1: State and Religion.
Land Ownership : The Lands Committee adopted a close to bar non-Zambians from owning land. There are remains some confusion over whether this would apply retrospectively or not. This is one of those changes that will have little implication in practice but provides further incentives to foreigners for becoming full participating Zambians.