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 2010-08-13 09:16 pm Back to NEWS
NCC drops ‘1st degree’ clause

The National Constitution Conference (NCC) has unanimously agreed to drop from the draft constitution the clause, which demands that a presidential candidate should possess a first degree from a recognised university.

The conference resolved to reverse its earlier decision after debating submissions from members of the public.

Some 239 members of the public made submissions on the first-degree clause out of which 182 rejected the requirement.

The conference resolved that the current status quo in the current constitution be maintained.

The current requirement for a presidential candidate is any person who can read and write.

The Mung’omba draft constitution proposed that a presidential candidate should posses a grade 12 certificate while the NCC had earlier adopted a university first-degree requirement.

Vice-President George Kunda urged the conference to drop the university degree clause describing it as a ‘bad clause’.

Mr Kunda said the clause was well articulated by members of the public who rejected it.

He said he agrees with the petitioners against the clause and that there was need to maintain the current status quo.

“I think this is a bad clause and we should remove it because it was well articulated by those who opposed it and I agree with them that we should remove it,” he said.

Commissioner Divo Katete said there was need to delete the degree clause because it is discriminatory.
Mr Katete said currently, a number of Zambians are unable to access university education due to limited space and financial resources.

He said college institutions, which mostly offer diploma courses have out numbered universities hence a number of Zambians, are unable to acquire degrees.

“We have a number of intelligent people but they fail to enroll at universities such as the University of Zambia (UNZA) because of inadequate financial resources.

“We have many of our people who have ended up with diploma certificates because colleges have out-numbered universities and so I think we should reflect on this and I am for maintaining the current status quo,” he said.

Commissioner Njekwa Anamela said it was important for the conference to revisit its earlier decision following public outcry to drop the clause.

“I think we need to revisit this issue of degree clause because of the tension it has caused and having listened to many voices outside NCC, I think we should listen to what the majority Zambians want,” Mr Anamela said.

Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II said she supports the comments from the public that petitioned the removal of the degree clause.

She said members of the public never brought the degree clause but that it is the conference which initiated it.

Commissioner Crispin Sibetta said there was need for the conference to compromise on some of its earlier decisions to allow the will of the people to prevail.

“I believe we should compromise on this one and allow the will of the people to prevail and after all, the degree requirement of a presidential candidate cannot guarantee bread on the tables of Zambians,” Mr Sibetta said.

Commissioner Bishop Chileshe said there was need for the conference to unite Zambians by dropping the clause.

“We have a duty to unite the nation and so there is need to revisit this particular clause,” Bishop Chileshe said.

And about 103 members of the public submitted comments on the 50 percent-plus-one clause for a presidential candidate.

Although 87 supported the article, the NCC could not deliberate it because it had earlier referred it to a referendum.

And NCC chairperson, Chifumu Banda said all the clauses that have been referred to the referendum will be handled by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ).

Mr Banda said it is the responsibility of the ECZ to sanction voting on the articles that have been referred to the referendum.

He was responding to concerns by some NCC members who wanted to know when a referendum will be held for certain articles.

And the conference has maintained that ministers must be appointed from members of Parliament.

This was after members rejected a proposal from some members of the public that sought the President to appoint ministers from outside the National Assembly.
The conference has also maintained that the President shall appoint his vice-president.

It was also agreed that the President shall not have dual citizenship and this will apply to a person holding vice-presidency.

And the NCC has agreed to reverse its earlier decision where it suggested that the number of directly elected members of Parliament be increased from 150 to 240 and included 30 seats on the basis of proportional representation, 10 nominated and one for the speaker. This came to a total of 281.

But some members of the conference felt that the proposed increase in the number of constituencies was too much to be achieved by Government.

Commissioner Mkhondo Lungu said the increase in the number of seats was exorbitant hence the need to consider a reduction.

Mr Lungu said the conference, however, needed to come up with a methodology on the delimitation of constituencies that are vast.

Commissioner Michael Mabenga, who supported a reduction in the number, said vast rural constituencies should seriously be considered for delimitation.

Mr Mabenga cited Mulobezi, his constituency as being vast and required delimitation.

Commissioner Sylvia Masebo suggested that the NCC considers adopting available statistics on the delimitation of constituencies as recommended by ECZ.
In 2004, ECZ estimation was that some constituencies needed to be delimitated from 150 to 225.

The Vice-President supported Commissioner Masebo’s suggestion, taking into consideration the population growth.

Commissioner Daniel Munkombwe said there is need to build capacity in the current members of Parliament.
Mr Munkombwe said lack of adequate logistics is making it difficult for some MPs to manage their constituencies.

Zambia Daily Mail

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