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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

What is wrong with NCC?

Muna Mbulo summarises the flaws:

The current constitution making process is deeply flawed and will fail to deliver a constitution that is legitimate and provides a framework for the democratic governance of Zambia. The primary flaws in the process are the following:
  1. The process itself is inherently unrepresentative and is dominated by politicians;
  2. It is ill designed to build consensus and produce a constitution the country can be proud of;
  3. The constitutional conference or the legislation creating it do not say a word about its philosophical approach to the constitution but its phobia about values, transparency, institutionalisation of accountability and policy is clear in its decisions;
  4. It is not guided by any constitutional principles;
  5. It is not clear what attention the conference gives to the drafting itself, an essential component of preparing the constitution and
  6. The Constitution Conference gives the impression that it has little understanding of the functions of a constitution. Its slash and burn policy on the Mungomba draft appears to be uninformed by an understanding of what must be in the constitution and what maybe relegated to legislation. It has even less understanding of the dynamics and relationships between, institutions and procedures;
  7. It has shown disdain for the views of the public.
  8. It does not posses any idea about the meaning and significance of decentralisation. It confuses decentralisation of the center with devolution of power to local communities;
  9. It is not guided by an understanding of the abundant best practices in Africa and the rest of the world which have informed successful constitution making processes elsewhere e.g. Kenya, South Africa and Namibia to name just a few countries.
It further has no timeline for its work thereby making it open to abuse by those who want to exploit the process to make money, advance their accumulation agenda, or see payments in the form of sitting fees as an economic stimulus in these economic hard time. Already the process has lasted three years. In contrast both the Kenyan and South African process had very strict timelines and each lasted two years. In constitution making it is unwise to have an open ended process as the Zambian process has demonstrated.
A very good list! It summarises many of the complaints I have read. I can see a new paper on the horizon by a clever researcher: “How not to review the constitution: evidence from Zambia”! That said, I do think though that the last point is more complicated than Mbulo suggests. I have discussed this issue here. Fixed timescales creates other problems related to “incomplete information” among players and the incentive problems that generates.  Kenya in fact is a good example because the process has not finished with another draft under way!


  1. Chola, do you know where the most recent draft can be found online? I know the NCC website has the 2005 draft constitution but I cannot find the most recent one. Is it even available?

  2. I am only aware of the Mungomba Draft Constitution. This the draft that they have chopped and changed!

    They have yet to produce their own draft. But we know what it will say from the reports in the media!

  3. I was also surprised why at on point they were deliberating on pensions. Are they drafting a constitution or are they legislating?

  4. Frank,

    Yes, this is by far the biggest problem!
    They do not know the difference between legislation and a constitution!

    Infact neither do the people because they have not defined upfront as Mbulo suggests.

    I was listening to a blog talk radio show with Ms Zaloumis, the NCC spokesperson, and the callers seemed confused. Some were calling for decentralisation, others for better public pay, etc.

  5. " I was listening to a blog talk radio show with Ms Zaloumis, the NCC spokesperson, and the callers seemed confused. Some were calling for decentralisation "

    And Ms. Zaloumis said 'we have taken care of that ' (decentralization), which I thought was a little disingenuous.

  6. MrK,

    I think the constitution can devolve powers...but the process of decentralisation itself is a matter of legislation.

    This I think accords with the idea of the constitution being a largely "principles" document.


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