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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill 2010: Part IV

Office of Vice-President

Article 50 provides provision related to appointment of the Vice President :
  1. There shall be an office of Vice-President of the Republic.
  2. The Vice-President shall be appointed by the President from amongst the members of the National Assembly.
  3. A member of the National Assembly shall not be appointed as Vice-President if the member has dual citizenship. 
  4. Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Vice-President shall vacate that office upon the assumption by any person of the office of President.
The above is the well debated rejection of a "running mate". The arguments for having a running mate are well known, not least because it would save money. The Presidential bye-election cost Zambia (and the donors) around $70m. Changing Article 50 can ensure we never spend that amount of money again.

For this reason I have been eager to see the reasons for the NCC position. The key reasons offered appear to be the following (NCC initial report, page 451) :
  • a) the provision would be a recipe for instability in the country and that Zambia was not yet ready for a system that provided for a Presidential running-mate;
  • b) that some African countries had experienced problems with the system of presidential running-mate;
  • c) that the provision would lead to crisis of loyalty in the political parties and Cabinet and, therefore, impede development;
  • d) that a running-mate who had presidential ambitions would, in the course of the Presidential term, work to undermine the President;
  • e) the other reason advanced against Article 144 (2) was that Zambia had successfully used the current system for forty-six (46) years and the system had worked well 
  • f) that if the Vice-President chose to advance his or her own agenda and vision, the President would not have the option of dismissing such a Vice-President; and
  • g) that where there was conflict between the President and the Vice-President, the running of the country would be adversely affected.
What are we to make of these reasons? Notice that all the reasons are negative. They speak of what is wrong with having a running mate, not what is good about the current position. This appears to be the general limited mental posture of the NCC delegates. They just failed to think through issues. With this in mind, lets go through their negative reasons :

a) is pure folly.  Running mates don't cause civil wars. One has to explain how a "running mate" leads to civil before this accepted.
b) is "sakism" - designing policies by examples. Also the issue is not examples but to establish causality under argument (a), which no one can do.
c) is unsubstantiated. Again no causal link established.
d) is presumably the famous witchcraft argument peddled by Hon Nalumambe.
f) i can't fully grasp. Its unintelligible!
g) same as (f).

So it is clear then that even if their weak argumentation was tolerated their position is baseless. Again, we have a piece of legislation that needs to go back to the Mung'omba Draft Constitution position. Zambians want an elected Vice President to save us money.

The Zambian Economist is currently reviewing the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill 2010 before it formally responds to the Legislature. All posts in this ongoing review can be found at the Constitution of Zambia page.

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