Thursday, April 11, 2013

50+1 vote goes through, PR system tumble

THE representation of the People thematic group in the on-going national Convention on the Constitution has unanimously resolved to retain clause 75(1) on the 50 plus one majority vote for Presidential candidates.  
Chieftainess Nkomeshya
And Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II has observed that it will be very difficult for a political party to garner more that 50 per cent of the total votes cast in an election to win the polls due to uncontrolled mushrooming number of political parties in the country.

Francis Chigunta led delegates in the deliberations who later overwhelmingly voted for the 50 plus one electoral system which had in recent times been a subject of discussion.

Article 75(1) in the draft constitution states: “Elections to the office of President shall be conducted directly on the basis of a majoritarian system where the winning candidates must receive not less than fifty percent plus one vote of the valid votes cast and in accordance with Article 99.”

A delegate Macdonald Chipenzi who is Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) executive director in supporting the fifty plus one said “this voting system is important and we need in Zambia.”

Mr Chipenzi said the voting system was critical in unifying the nation as the President would have the majority vote and confidence of the people.

Another delegate Boniface Chembe said Zambians had for a long time and in previous administrations have been of the view that a President should have a majority vote.

The outspoken priest, Father Frank Bwalya said the system must be adopted despite some concerns raised by some people.

But Pambashe Patriotic Front (MP) Parliamentarian Ronald Chitotela opposed the clause saying the system would not accurately represent the views of the majority Zambians in the current situation.

Mr Chitotela said this was in view of Zambia’s population of over 13 million against the number of registered voters of more than five million.

The delegates rejected proposals from nine provinces to continue with the current voting system of MPs.

The delegates instead resolved to adopt the multi member representation (MMR) system of MPs.

The National Convention, the last lap to Zambia’s quest for a people driven Constitution, today entered day two with the delegates breaking into thematic groups to tackle various aspects of the draft Constitution.

The 11 groups would come up with resolutions to be tabled before a Plenary Session on Sunday for the final touches to the document.

The General Principles group would, among other issues, handle the preamble and the matter of Zambia being a Christian nation.

Other groups are the Human Rights, Civil and Political, the Human Rights Economic, Social and Culture, the Representation of the People and the Executive and Legislature.

Others are the Judiciary, the Devolved Governance, the Public Service, Defence and National Security, the Public Finance, the Land and Environment and the Constitutional Offices.

The thematic groups would deliberate for three days until Saturday before reporting to the main body, the plenary session on Sunday, to pave way for all the delegates to debate on the thematic groups’ deliberations.

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.
Musa Mwenye
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.
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.

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