50+1 vote clause passes final consultative stage

Zambia draft Constitution

The thematic working group on representation of people at the ongoing National Constitution Convention have unanimously retained the 50+1 vote threshold clause in the First Draft Constitution for the election of the republican President.
And Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II has observed that it will be very difficult for a political party to garner more that 50% of the total votes cast in an election to win the polls due to uncontrolled mushrooming number of political parties in the country.
The thematic group on representation of people, which is being chaired by Francis Chigunta, has retained Clause (1) of Article 75 which provides that elections to the office of the President Shall be conducted directly on the basis of a majoritarian system where the winning candidate must receive not less than 50% +1 vote of the valid votes cast.
In supporting the clause, Lubansenshi Independent Member of Parliament Patrick Mucheleka said it would be a betrayal to the people of Zambia to remove the clause as they have spoken that they need a president with legitimacy of all Zambians.
Contributing to the debate, United Party for National Development (UPND) Secretary General, Winston Chibwe, noted that the clause will unite the country as all Zambians will have to agree on who to be their president as opposed to the current scenario which allows the candidate with the highest votes who might be the minority to become president.
But Solicitor General, Musa Mwenye, observed that Clause 1 which provides for the 50+1 votes, coupled with the Proportional Representation (PR) system of electing Members of Parliament, will create a very powerful president and a very weak parliament which he said was not good for the country.
Mr Mwenye further observed that Article 75 will make it difficult for candidates hailing from tribes that are not the majority in the country to win elections as people in Zambia vote not necessarily on tribal lines but on the language spoken in a certain region.
But the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) National Women’s chairperson, Faustina Sinyangwe, who was the National Constitution Conference vice chairperson, revealed that the NCC was thrown out because it failed to adopt the 50+1 vote clause which people dearly wanted.
Ms Sinyangwe, who served on the Mung’omba Commission, stated that people countrywide submitted to the Mung’omba that they wanted the clause, hence the need to retain it if the constitution is to be accepted by Zambians.
But Pambashe MP, Ronald Chitotela, differed with the views of the rest as he noted that even the president elected by the 50+1 vote is far from being called a majoritarian president because the country has less than half of its population who are registered voters, hence the need for the convention to revert to the current system.
The clause, when subjected to a vote, all delegates voted to retain it, except for Mr Chitotela  who voted against and the Solicitor General who abstained.
In addition the working group has rejected the Proportional Representation (PR) system of electing MPs and replaced it with the mixed member representation system which is recommended in the Mung’omba Constitution Commission.
The PR system, which has since been amended, was going to allow political parties to get seats proportionate to the votes they receive in an election which most members observed was not good as it will allow all political parties, including the least, to get seats in all districts.
The same electoral system has since been unanimously adopted for use in local government elections.
Meanwhile Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II expressed worry at the mushrooming number of political parties in Zambia.
She noted that some political parties that have been registered have no national character and will only cause confusion during elections, especially after adopting the 50+1 vote clause, adding that the convention should device a way of regulating the number of political parties.