A response to the National Constitutional Conference on the new Draft Constitution. This from Ruth Henson (Martindale Farm, Livingstone). The first submission I have found myself nodding along - 99%. I naturally share the very valid point on age being 30 years old myself - I found myself discriminated by the NCC! Please keep copying us in to help you keep a public record of your response (firstname.lastname@example.org) - other responses can be found at our new Draft Constitution 2010 page:
Here are my comments on the draft constitution:
Declaration of a Christian nation conflicts with numerous other sections. If it is retained we should do away with the death penalty, army, air-force and intelligence service. Freedom of religion would also be compromised.
Section on citizenship is not clear as to who has to renounce other citizenship. Is it everyone who has a right to another or only those who have applied for Zambian citizenship? What happens to people who have a right to another citizenship but have not claimed it or renounced it? Will they be assumed to be foreigners or Zambians? (This affects a very large number of people.)Exceptions to discrimination section are too vague. What is the point of banning discrimination and then allowing it under numerous circumstances?
Legal age for marriage is 18? This is not going to be popular in rural areas where it is hard enough to enforce at 16.
There is far too much detail in the constitution most of which should be in the laws not in the constitution. The constitution should have the basic principles and leave the details to the laws.
50% plus one for presidential elections must be retained.
Specifying the date of the election is good.
Presidential qualifications are unnecessary. Let the voters choose who they want. Let the requirements only be nationality. Beyond that let the voters choose. If a voter believes a 34yr old who did not go to university is the best choice, let him vote for that person. Too many qualifications is robbing the voters of their right to choose the person they think is best.
Presidential immunity should automatically end as soon as the President leaves office.
Too much power still resides with the president.
The constitution should not specify number of deputy ministers. There should ideally be none. If ministers were chosen from outside parliament it would be better.
There is not nearly enough decentralization. Until both power and money are much closer to the people we will not see meaningful change for the better. This should apply to all records as well. Land records, birth and citizenship records etc. Nothing should require a citizen to make a trip to Lusaka.
The NCC should have either adopted the Mungomba draft as it is, or given enough time for people to go through it properly. 40 days is too short but the job had already been done by the Mungomba draft and would not have needed doing again if the draft was followed unchanged.