Who should choose parliamentary candidates?

 Who should choose parliamentary candidates?

By Eng Geoffrey Chishimba Chiyumbe
Political parties in Zambia are at this time busy making their final selection for their constituency representatives in the race to the National Assembly in the general elections slated for August 12, 2021.

There is debate however, as for which political party structure level must call the final shot in this adoption process.

Some section in the debate advances the excuse that the grassroots must be empowered.  On the other side are those who believe that the final jurisdiction lies with the top political party structures or organ as opposed to local structures.

I want to exercise my rights and as an informed individual, take a side and advance my choice. I side with MP adoptions to be done and finally decided at the national level as opposed to the grassroots.

For the ward councillors I give that responsibility to the local structures since their zone of operation is local. But for the MPs it is different.  The fact that it is from the elected MPs that Cabinet Ministers are appointed, whose services are at the national level, justifies my position.

The national assembly, as the name implies, is an assembly at the national level. At that level, as a nation, we are looking at comprehensively meeting and achieving  the following key aspects critical in a democratic dispensation and also  in accordance with article 69(1), Article 45 (1c) and 45 (1d) of our  Zambian Constitution:

1) Tribal / Regional balancing

2) Gender balance

3) Special interest groups – the disabled

4) Professionals

Only the top national level organ of a political party can ensure the above aspects are achieved.  The national assembly has 156 limited slots for elected MPs to start with. After the elections, the 156 seats must be subjected to the above criteria by the President for him to form his Cabinet, as a national balancing act, even before he exercises his powers to nominate not more than eight MP’s.

And moreover, these come from different political parties. What a challenge for the Republican President!

The analogy is a national football team where the national team coach picks players from local football clubs. He must get players for all specific positions otherwise if he depends on local clubs to give him their players of choice, he may end up with only defenders for instance, without mid fielders, strikers and goal keeper. The national executive structures for each political party are analogous to the national team coach.

In certain circumstances, the national management committee of a political party through its President, National Chairman or even the Secretary General may send or adopt a suitable preferred parliamentary candidate to a certain constituency as their representative after being vetted because he is a national asset and needs to be attached to some particular constituency where he can serve the people better.

This is similar to what happens in football where a national team coach may ‘send’ or recommend a quality player who plays in a national team to a local team. The local team will be excited with this gesture or goodwill as his presence there will benefit them in terms of his skills.

And so as an aspiring parliamentary candidate, you could have scored highest points at Ward and even Constituency level, but stay put and support whoever the highest organ of your party will adopt, as they juggle. It is only them with the eagle’s eye view.

In the preamble to our amended constitution, we the people of Zambia acknowledge the supremacy of God the Almighty.  That acknowledgement entails that we fully believe in the following words written in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, “declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” This in essence is talking about respect for hierarchy, a system in which members of an organization or society are ranked according to relative status or authority. In this manner things are done orderly and by arrangement without confusion.

The Bible speaks decisively to this issue of obedience to the superior authorities.  Romans 13:1-2 says: “Obey the government, for God is the One who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power. So those who refuse to obey the law of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow”. Subject to the authority means that the person or body possessed of such authority may amend or revoke the action or decision subject to such authority or reserve to himself or itself such action or decision.

Therefore, may we all allow the highest organs or national executive structures in different political parties, that is, MCC for PF, NMC for UPND, etc. to do their job of ensuring fair representation in the National Assembly as they adopt parliamentary candidates, as the final authority, to be presented before the Electoral Commission of Zambia, for the voters to decide. As we exercise our constitution right to belong to any political party of choice, may we all endeavor to ensure that peace prevails and we remain as one under the One Zambia One Nation motto. This is for the good of mother Zambia and is a practical acknowledgement of the supremacy of Jehovah God over our lives, severally and individually.

The writer is a socio political commentator, researcher, teacher, an energy expert and project management specialist with over 25 years post qualifying experience from Zambia and South Africa. As a professional engineer from UNZA, he worked amongst others, for ZCCM Konkola Division, Zesco Limited, Anglo America Plc, Zambia Railways Asset Evaluation Lead Engineer , CEC top management re – engineering with Pricewaterhousecoopers as the lead power advisor, Eskom subsidiary  TAP Country Director for Zambia, Project Manager on the Gautrain Project, project manager on Cape Town container terminal expansion project and recently appointed by the Republican President as Chairman, team leader and project manager on the Presidential Task Force on energy sector reforms in Zambia. He can be contacted on WhatsApp line +260976840325 or email: chiyumbegc@gmail.com


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