Chipenzi prods civic leaders to take interest in NDF proposals

By Staff Reporter

Governance, Elections, Advocacy, and Research Services (Gears) Initiative is disappointed with civic leaders’ silence when National Dialogue Forum proposals are threatening their independence.

Gears Initiative Executive Director, Macdonald Chipenzi has cited the proposal by the NDF for Members of Parliament to sit in council meetings as was the case before, which he says compromises the independence of councilors in their operations.

Chipenzi has also cited the proposal for the dissolution of councils while the national assembly remains sitting until the Election Day as one of the issues that civic leaders must be concerned about.

But Local Government Association of Zambia Executive Director Maurice Mbolela said the association was opposed to proposed constitutional amendments on local government.

Mbolela said there was need to safeguard constitutional provisions relating to local government in the Republican Constitution.

He cited Article 154 (2), which provides for a Mayor and Council Chairperson to be elected directly by the electorate in a district for a five year term of office adding that LGAZ had not departed from this position.

And Chipenzi challenged opposition political parties and their leadership to advise their civic leaders to oppose these proposals.

“One may understand the silence from the ruling party aligned councilors, mayors, chairpersons and their fears to voice out on the NDF including that of the President of the Local Government Association of Zambia Christopher Kang’ombe. For instance, NDF Draft Constitution proposes scrapping off of elections of Mayors/Chairpersons by the residents and place this responsibility to councilors without involvement of the residents. It also proposes the re-introduction of MPs sitting in councils as councilors and drawing double sittings allowances as MPs and Councilors as it was previously done” he said.

Meanwhile, Mbolela said that  a popularly elected Mayor/ Council Chairperson points to the desire by the electorate in the district to have local authorities presided over by persons democratically elected as opposed to a few councilors like was the case previously.

He said the position of the NDF was inconsistent with democratic values and principles of good governance espoused in the Constitution.

 “The Association’s position on this matter is well documented, as members of the public may be aware, this is one of the reasons which led to Association President Mayor Christopher Kang’ombe’s appointment on the NDF being withdrawn for strongly stating the Association’s position on the matter.”

He said the association had resolved to defend progressive constitutional provisions and will support efforts aimed at amplifying the people’s voice especially on the type of local government they desired.

And Foundation for Democratic Process president Mwenda Mumbuna has urged MPs to consult stakeholders as they go to debate the electoral process bill in parliament so that it reflects the aspirations of the people.