WILLIAM Harrington yesterday stated that it is sad that the NCC
is proposing to introduce an obnoxious and draconian clause that requires one to
be a degree holder to qualify for President of the Republic of Zambia.
Harrington, a former Mung'omba Constitution Review Commission (CRC)
commissioner, stated that the National Constitutional Conference (NCC) should be
cautioned against entrenching discriminatory clauses in the proposed new
constitution if it had to be acceptable to the people through the
"The proposal that for one to qualify as a candidate for the
office of President, one must be a degree holder is discriminatory against the
majority of Zambians. There is therefore need for the NCC to recognise and
respect the terms of reference given to the Mung'omba Constitution Review
Commission (CRC) by the late visionary Republican president Mr Levy Patrick
Mwanawasa SC, amongst them, to identify and remove discriminatory clauses in the
current Constitution," Harrington stated. "In line with the expressed wishes of
the people, the CRC did not propose that for one to qualify as candidate for the
office of President, one must be a degree holder. Not surprisingly also, the
Chona and Mvunga and Mwanakatwe Constitution Commissions did not recommend that
one must be a degree holder to qualify for presidency.
"It is sad to
learn now that the NCC is proposing to introduce an obnoxious and draconian
clause that one must be a degree holder to qualify for President of the Republic
of Zambia. This is clearly and blatantly against the spirit of previous
Commissions, the Mungomba CRC terms of reference and recommendations, and most
importantly, the expressed will of the people."
He stated that the NCC
should find time to study and understand the spirit of the CRC recommendations
and draft constitution.
"Failure to which the new Constitution risks
being rejected by the Zambian people at the referendum stage. This predictable
eventuality will be most unfortunate considering the huge financial expenditure
on the CRC and indeed the NCC itself," Harrington stated. "I also find it rather
strange and incomprehensible that the NCC members, the vast majority of whom are
themselves not degree holders, with all due respect, can "shoot themselves in
the foot" by introducing such a clause in the new Constitution thereby
disqualifying themselves. Many NCC members come from diverse professional
backgrounds and fields of competence, which could be of great benefit to the
country at Presidential level."
Harrington explained that one might be a
suitable president if one possesses the necessary political acumen to lead the
country in a transparent, accountable, law-abiding and non-corrupt
"Many successful farmers and businessmen in the country are not
necessarily degree holders but posses prudent management skills. One may argue
further that having a degree holder for president is not a guarantee for
good-governance and respect for the principle of separation of powers, the rule
of law, human rights and sustainable socio-economic development. As evident in
certain parts of Africa and the world at large, some degree-holder presidents
have become economic plunderers and despotic rulers, putting their countries on
their knees and turning citizens into desperate fugitives and refugees,"
Harrington stated. "It is also ironic and interesting to note that whilst it is
being proposed that a president must be a degree holder, it is non-degree
holders who are being entrusted to determine the destiny of our country through
the adoption of our proposed Constitution, the supreme law of the land. The
point I am attempting to make is that surely there are many amongst the NCC
members themselves and outside who can competently lead our country. How can
anyone expect vast majority of Zambian voters who are also non-degree holders
and therefore be disqualified from contesting for the Republican presidency be
"educated enough" to vote into office a degree-holder for president?
what type of degree are we talking about? In today's world one can obtain a
degree from a bona-fide institution such as UNZA or CBU, or buy one from some
dubious institution in a West African or Asian country? One can also solicit for
and be awarded an honorary degree from such sources. Will possession of all such
degrees qualify one to be president? What about a degree in micro-biology or
nuclear science? Will these necessarily make one a competent president? And of
what benefit will it be for Zambia to have a president who does not understand
the meaning of the word "nullity" for example?"
He stated that the
morality and logic of the proposed presidential clause was highly questionable
and certainly not in the best interests of the nation.
the perception that it has created in political and public circles that it is
mischievously targeted at certain individuals who may pose a threat to the
interests of the current ruling party," stated Harrington.