The National Constitution Conference (NCC) has resumed sitting and the madness never left over the long break. After some work by the committees, the main conference is voting on various proposals.
There was confusion last week after the 50% + 1 proposal previously adopted failed to gain the backing of the conference.
The delegates were more open to the 30% rule which allows for greater gender represenation. We have previously discussed this in Angola and Rwandan contexts.
Opposition for 50% + 1 is largely led by the MMD (or is it "government"?) as exemplified by this contribution from Ronnie Shikapwasha :
"We shouldn't forget to see how this system being propagated has created chaos in other countries. Many democracies don’t use this system and you want us to use this chaotic system? The effects of it in Zimbabwe we are feeling it, we are feeding Zimbabweans...NGOs are the ones that created chaos in Zimbabwe by sponsoring this system…Chairperson, Zambia has always been known as a haven of peace and we are admired for this. Why are we going for a system that promotes chaos? Why is it that big democracies in the world have not adopted this system? I must appeal to my fellow delegates that we should not adopt this system because it is wrong."Another Mung’omba Draft Constitution proposal came unstuck. The NCC roundly rejected the proposal which would empower people to sack their local MPs. A lot of hubris advanced ranging from causing anarchy to retarding development. But Daniel Munkombwe did hint at the underlying assumption : “If an MP does not work according to people’s expectation, the electorate will be free to speak through the ballot paper instead of petitioning their removal before the elections are held ”.
It seems to me that Munkombwe's reason should be the starting point for the debate. Are the "electorate free to speak"? If so, is five years too long to wait to "speak"? Why are MPs different from any employee who faces a sack if they under-perform? Would having this clause increase bye-elections or will it have the deterrent effect of making MPs more disciplined? Would corrupt elites hijack the process? Under what conditions would someone be removed? Is what we actually need for all this to work an Independent Regulator of Parliament?
These are some of the questions I expected to come from the NCC. There's been a lot of debate in the United Kingdom about having similar legislation in the wake of the expenses scandal. Interested readers may want to see this and this.