Reflections on 2016

Sun, 01 Jan 2017 08:41:08 +0000


2016 was a year of mixed blessings and set a good base on which to project what 2017 holds in stock.

Be that as it may, the year 2016 had its own share of challenges both economically and politically.

Apart from the so many successes that were registered in 2016, probably the amendment of the republican Constitution, in our view, stands out.

The amended Constitution introduced quite a number of new provisions that have brought change to the way things are supposed to be done going forward.

For instance, a number of progressive provisions on governance were put to test in 2016. There was the introduction of clauses such as the running mate to the presidential candidate, the 50 plus one threshold criteria to determine the successful candidate and limiting the period within which a presidential election petition would be heard to only 14 days.

In this vein, the holding of successful elections under the amended Constitution presented a litmus test on many of these new provisions that Zambians had so much wanted to be part and parcel of the electoral system.

On the other hand, the August 11 general elections provided a platform on which a number of grey areas were exposed to the nation.

Do the cabinet ministers remain in their positions or not after dissolution of Parliament? Does the incumbent President continue serving the nation in an event that there is a presidential election petition?

Provisions on the continued stay into office of the cabinet ministers seem premised on two parallel interpretations of the Constitution.

In one breath, the Constitution provides that cabinet ministers can only leave office after another republican President is sworn into office while on the other hand, ministers cease to hold their positions once Parliament is dissolved because it is the basis on which they are appointed.

We note that because of these conflicts, the classic judgment of the Constitutional Court requesting the former ministers to pay back the salaries and allowances drawn during their stay in office has not settled well with some sections of society.

The hullabaloo surrounding whether the incumbent President should continue performing his functions when there is a presidential election petition or there should be transfer of executive power to the Speaker of the National Assembly is yet another puzzle that needs to be figured out.

The confusion that almost created a power vacuum in the executive was not only a risk to national security but also a threat to our democracy.

Certainly, there is need for clarity in the application of Articles 103 and 104.

Now that elections are over, it is important for Government through the Ministry of Justice to initiate the amendment of such controversial constitutional provisions.

We concur with President Lungu when he urges the citizenry to build on this rich legacy to look forward to a prosperous 2017.

Happy and prosperous New Year to you all.


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