Convention puts Speakers qualifications to a vote

Zambia draft Constitution

The on-going National Constitution Convention has referred the clause on the qualifications of the Speaker of the National Assembly to a secret ballot after the house failed to agree on the matter.

 The delegates failed to reach a consensus on whether to amend paragraph (e) of clause (2) of article 153 to provide for the minimum qualification of a first university degree or its equivalent for a person to qualify to be elected as speaker of the National Assembly or revert to what is provided for in the First Draft Constitution.

After a lengthy debate, the chairperson of the convention, Professor Muyunda Mwanalushi called for an acclamation vote which he ruled was in favour of those against the amendment.

However, the group that was in favour of the amendment stood up in large numbers indicating that the decision by the chairperson was not satisfactory hence the matter be put  to a secret ballot.

This means that the house will tomorrow have a huge task of conducting four elections besides their mammoth  task of completing the consideration resolution from over 4 remaining groups plus validation of the whole document.

The same article in paragraph (a) of clause (3) further provides that the two deputy speakers of the National Assembly shall be from among the elected MPs.

In supporting the clause the delegates noted that the mandate of the National Assembly demands that the speakers and the deputies understand the scope and context of the legislation and parliamentary business in general hence the need for the speaker to be of higher academic qualification.

The clause was collectively adopted with amendments.

Meanwhile, the National Convention is scheduled for closure tomorrow. 

However, the workload in the house is still huge and the deliberations might go on until midnight if all tasks before it are to be concluded.

By 19:00 hours today the National Constitution Convention was still debating resolutions of group six while the resolutions of five other groups stood unconsidered.

Solicitor General Musa Mwenye also admitted that it will be impossible for the convention to conclude the business by tomorrow despite extending the working hours .

Chairperson of the Committee, Annel Silungwe noted that the delegates were tired and needed to rest while noting that the convention might be extended by one day only.

For the last two day s delegates have been sacrificing to work overtime in order to catch up with the deadline of concluding the business of the convention by today Wednesday April 16 as scheduled.

The Technical Committee Drafting the Zambian Constitution earlier in the week indicated that there will be no extension of the convention should the house fail to conclude all its business in the scheduled timeframe.

The convention dedicated a day for the official opening activities and formation of groups, three days to the thematic working group discussions and four days for the plenary discussion plus validation of the document and official closing.