Friday, January 08, 2010
By Mutale Kapekele
Fri 08 Jan. 2010, 04:01 CAT
THE MMD think they will be in power forever because they are still rooted in the one party state mentality, PF secretary general Wynter Kabimba has said. But MMD acting spokesperson Mike Mulongoti charged that his party was not worried about handing over power but what PF would do if they ruled the country.
Participating in a debate on good governance on ZNBC’s National Watch special programme on Wednesday night, Kabimba said the MMD suffered from a syndrome of entrenchment of power.
“The problem we have in terms of governance in this country is that Mike Mulongoti and the MMD think they will be in power forever because they are still rooted in the one party state mentality,” Kabimba said. “They MMD have forgotten that it’s the people who decide whether they should be in power or not. But as far as they are concerned, it’s them to hand over power because they suffer from a syndrome of entrenchment of power.”
He said the one party state mentality left little parameter for disagreement among citizens and politicians.
“Citizens in this country do not have parameters for debate because of the problem of this one party mentality, even for politicians there is little or narrow parameter of disagreement,” Kabimba said. “And when you have a contrary view, you are said to be insulting. I don’t know which insults you talk about.
You don’t expect me to praise Mike Mulongoti at a rally. I am a politician and name calling is part of the political industry. I challenge all those who say we are full of insults to produce a TV clip where a politician was insulting. In 2008 chief Mpezeni told his people to vote for mukulu mpuno. If that was coming from Sata, you would have said it was an insult.”
He said President Rupiah Banda was not his father for him not to talk about him in the political circle.
“Do you expect me to treat RB like my biological father? He is not my father,” he said. “Politicians will always disagree strongly but real insults and violence is what should be rooted out.”
He said for governance to make sense, there was need for the government to be inclusive when making decisions that affected the country like that of the constitution making process.
“We cannot have excessive governance. For governance to make sense, they must be inclusiveness in decision making,” he said.
“That is the reason why US President Barack Obama took on Hillary Clinton in his government. He wanted to promote inclusiveness in the interest of democracy in his party. If the MMD were a listening government, they would have taken a different route than the one they have taken in the constitution making process.”
He said the PF and the Oasis Forum had been vindicated for staying away from the National Constitution Conference (NCC) because the constitution that would be produced would not represent the wishes of the people.
“We are saddened by the constitution-making process. In 1996, the constitution was amended and not repealed and now it seems that is what is going to happen,” Kabimba said.
“We seem to be shifting ground from replacing the constitution to amendment which vindicates the PF and the Oasis Forum for staying out of NCC and it shows that the constitution will not be people driven. In other countries, they listen to the people when making constitutions but here we have a doctored constitution.”
But Mulongoti said the government was worried about what PF would do when they got into government and not handing over power.
“Wynter is worried about taking over office, not what his party is going to do if that happened,” Mulongoti said.
“That is our worry, not handing over power. I will be a beneficiary as a Zambian to the government that takes over so I have to make sure that we have the right people ruling. It will be unfair not to insist on standard. So the apprehension must not be our refusal to handover. If we agree and are satisfied, we will quietly hand over.”
He said the issues of making a constitution should be dealt with carefully and that the Constitution will not be repealed but amended before the 2011 tripartite elections.
“It is possible to amend the bad laws in the constitution before the 2011 elections but we need to be very careful when dealing with issues concerning the Constitution,” he said.
“For instance, laws that deal with elections can be amended so that we use a new law in 2011. The Bill of rights will not be a major concern but the outcome of elections, so we can start with elections.”
He said amending the “bad” parts of the Constitution will give the country a level playing field in next year’s elections and that insisting on a referendum was a backward step for the country.
“Not every part of the Constitution is defective so it’s not a question of getting a new one,” Mulongoti said. “The contentious issues in our current one are what should be corrected.”
Contributing to the debate, Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ) executive director Reverend Suzanne Matale said the country would remain the same if the legal system was not changed.
“You can change government many times but if you keep the redundant and defective legal system, everything will remain the same,” Rev Matale said.
“How do you operate effectively with such a law? …We need a responsive and effective government that can deliver services to the people effectively but right now there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The biggest gift the MMD can give to the people of Zambia is a constitution that is people driven. Then whoever comes into power, we will know that our people are protected. For now consensus building is not there.”
She said the government could have considered another route for the constitution making process as opposed to the NCC.
“Amending the constitution does not require the NCC, Parliament could have done that instead of spending too much money,” she said.
“We already have had three constitution commissions and those submissions could have been taken to a technical team to come up with a new constitution. The wishes of the citizens are still the same, those contributions are still valid. There has been some kind of time buying on the part of the government.”
She said it was sad that politicians had made serious issues personal at the expense of the people they serve.
“We need leadership that catches the people’s spirit, but now we don’t see that,” Rev Matale said.
“The church has made it clear that Zambia does not need name calling. Our leaders are blinded and covered by making politics individual issues. We want to discuss issues that affect the people like education and health. We don’t need rhetorics.”
She said Zambia was old enough to embrace decentralisation and to separate the three arms of the state.
“How do you have a government that tells you even where to build a market?” Rev Matale said.
“There is too much concentration of power in one place when this country is old enough to decentralise, to separate the three arms of government. A good constitution will help us achieve this because right now, nothing is helping us.”
And Citizens Forum executive director Simon Kabanda said the country had never made a constitution that supported democracy when it moved from the one party state in 1991.
“When we left the one party state, we were supposed to change even the constitution to one that supports democracy,” Kabamba said.
“All the provisions that supports a one party state are still in our Constitution … it is sad that we still don’t have a constitution that is approved by the people.
We need a constitution that facilitates for development in the Bill of rights. We don’t have to leave development to the whim of the government. As it is, they have the drive.”
Commenting on the issue of language in the political field, Kabamba said politicians should not regard each other as opponents but competitors.
“Politics are not dirty as many say, they are a serious business so even the language should be polite and serious,” he said. “We can live in harmony and unity as a people of diversity. We may be different but never believe in name calling but we should always agree to disagree.”
Also participating in the debate was UNIP acting secretary general Jemima Banda.