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Elections are one very important integral component of any democratic society. Elections not only allow the people to choose who by they wish to be governed, but equally bring about the very important concept of social contract where a relationship of master/servant gets to be created.

As article 5(1)1 of the constitution establishes that the sovereign authority of the republic vests in the people, and as article 602 establishes that legislative authority derives from the people, it is imperative that the people without hindrance, are enabled to exercise their sovereign authority as established in the constitution.

Part V of the constitution is titled ‘REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE’ and article 45 has ‘PRINCIPLES OF ELECTORAL SYSTEMS AND PROCESS’ as its heading. Clause (2) of article 45 provides for the process and system of administering elections to, among other, ensure a simple and practical system of voting and tabulating votes is used.

Key to the electoral systems and process is to have guaranteed representation of the people in all various sections of society as provided under article 45(1)(c)(d).3 Hence, a system used to elect Members of Parliament and Councillors becomes very important in meeting the aspirations of having fair representation of the various interest groups in society and ensuring gender equity in the National Assembly and Council.

The current First-Past-The-Post electoral system provided under article 47(2)(3)4 is not designed to yield such desires contained in paragraphs (c) and (d) of clause (1) article 45 of the constitution. There is therefore indeed a need to reform the electoral system by adopting one that is able to bring out the desires of the people as contained in the constitution. Indeed a number of systems exist that would bring about the desired outcomes of fair representation of the various interest groups in society and ensuring gender equity in the National Assembly and Councils.

Whatever suggested systems to reform the electoral systems with, must ensure that the core values of the electoral systems and process, are maintained which is, to ensure ‘REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE’. The system must not only ensure representation of

1 5(1) Sovereign authority vests in the people of Zambia, which may be exercised directly or through elected or appointed representatives or institutions.
2 Article 60- The legislative authority of the Republic derives from the people of Zambia and shall be exercised in a manner that protects this Constitution and promotes the democratic governance of the Republic.)
3 45(1). The electoral systems provided for in Article 47 for the election of President, Member of Parliament or councillor shall ensure— (c) fair representation of the various interest groups in society; and (d) gender equity in the National Assembly or council
4 47(2) Elections to the National Assembly shall be conducted under a first-past-the-post electoral system in accordance with Article 68. (3) Elections to councils shall be conducted under a first-pastthe-post electoral system, and in accordance with Articles 153 and 154. the people, it must equally be one that would curb against ELECTED DICTATORSHIPS5 in the country.

The Party-list Proportional Representation electoral system is one ideal system that would ensure representation of the various interest groups in society, gender equity in the National Assembly and Councils and at the same time curb against ELECTED DICTATORSHIPS. For this system however to successfully do that, it may require that a second chamber of Parliament is established rather than having a single chamber with members elected on the basis of FirstPast-The-Post and others on the basis of Proportionality (MMES).

In line with the need for simplicity and practicability of the system of counting and tabulating votes, it appears the MMES may present a bit of challenge in terms of simplicity and practicability. Without pointing to any specific parts of the MMES, just the process of establishing a Proportional outcome together with the popular votes members within the chamber, appears not to be a simple and practical system of electing members with a view to ensuring fair representation of the various interest groups in society and gender equity in the National Assembly and Councils.

The system in itself is quite clear and simple to attain however the determinant of the mixed membership is what appears rather ambiguous. Hence, the establishment of a second chamber would simplify the process based on the same method of determining the proportionality of representation arising from the number of votes each party receives which would translate proportionately to the number of seats a political party would be allocated in the second chamber of Parliament. Hence, the second chamber would not be based on democratic principles of representation of the people as the members there would not have any constituency in the sense, but their role would be to ensure fair representation of the various interest groups in society and also promote gender equity in Parliament and ultimately safeguarding against ‘ELECTED DICTATORSHIPS’.


Contrary to the current National Assembly whose composition is based on constituency representation with a majoritarian system where the candidate with the most votes wins an election notwithstanding the percentage (FPTP), the second chamber composed on Proportional Representation principles, will not be based on any constituency representation in the sense of the country’s demarcated constituencies for purposes of representation to Parliament. Therefore, though there would not be such constituencies, there would nevertheless be constituencies based on political parties that would be allocated seats in the second chamber of Parliament based on the proportion of votes a party receives either at Presidential or Parliamentary level.

Guided by the legislative provisions, the parties would ensure they nominate from their Partylist, individuals to the second chamber of Parliament based on gender equity and representation of the various interest groups within society to be the members of the second chamber of 5 Where a political party in government has an overwhelming majority in Parliament to enable the party pass any political and legislative decisions without much opposition. Parliament. Therefore, whatever percentage of votes a party receives either at Parliamentary or Presidential level, would proportionately be the number of seats a party would be allocated in the second chamber.


An elected dictatorship is brought about by numbers in a country’s Parliament. Where a party forming government has such an overwhelming majority of seats in Parliament which ordinarily is the institution of democracy, the numbers would transform the institution into an institution of dictatorship as the party with an absolute majority would be able to make whatever political or legislative decision without any meaningful scrutiny coming from the opposition. The 1991 elections in Zambia and the 1997 elections in Britain yielded elected dictatorship where in Zambia for example, the 1996 constitution was adopted and enacted by a Parliament that was over 70% Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD). Notwithstanding the public outcry against enacting the constitution whose contents had drastically been changed by the same Parliament at adoption stage, so that its contents ceased to reflect what the people’s submissions were, but rather reflected the views of the party in government at the time arising from its majority in Parliament, the constitution was passed and assented to. Had the Parliament of Zambia been bicameral (two chambers of Parliament), the likelihood of the 1996 constitution being passed when it was manifestly contrary to the aspirations of the people in the country, would not have been there since it would have had to be subjected to further scrutiny in the second chamber whose composition would have been based on proportionality.


Besides curbing against elected dictatorships, a second chamber would further enhance participation of different political parties in the governance of the country where, because they would have representation in Parliament, whatever ideas they may have which may be good for the country, would have a platform where they can be articulated and considered for policy and implementation for the good of the country. A classic example of this is the idea the Green Party had on legalising cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Apart from reports in newspapers, there was no other platform before which those ideas were presented. With a second chamber based on Proportional Representation, a vital platform would be created for other political players otherwise note represented in the one chamber constituted based on FirstPast-The-Post system, a system that mainly supports only the bigger political parties and thereby distorting the political landscape of the country.


Besides the advantages of Proportional Representation highlighted, the system is equally idea in avoiding by-elections. Under Proportional Representation, political parties are allocated seats which seats will belong to the political parties for the duration of the session of Parliament. Where therefore a vacancy would fall for whatever reason, there would be no need for a by-election as the political party whose seat has fallen vacant would simply nominate another from its ranks to fill the vacancy. This however is in the light that the First-Past-ThePost electoral system is completely done away with and replace completely by the Proportional Representation as the case is in countries like South Africa.


Though the Proportional Representation electoral system is ideal for ensuring fair representation of the various interest groups in society and gender equity in the National Assembly, the members do not have that attachment to the electorate and they are not accountable to them. Accountability is to political parties that nominate them to the chamber. The party therefore has a lot of influence on the members nominated to the second chamber which sometimes, may affect the proper judgment of the members on matters of national importance which the members may be influenced to consider from the political eyes rather than national interest.


As the main objectives for the proposed reforms concern fair representation of the various interest groups in society and gender equity in the National Assembly and Council, the disadvantages of Proportional Representation highlighted above may not much adversely affect the realisation of what the purpose for having a Proportional Representation electoral system are. Equally, the aspect of ‘REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE’ would not completely be lost whether the system is brought about through establishment of a second chamber or as suggested, through the MMES. Where it to be introduced via a MMES, the members elected on the basis of majority vote drawn from constituencies, would still be part of the Parliament. Where it to be through a second chamber, representation would still be there via the already existing chamber whose composition would still be based on First-Past-The-Post system where the main focus is on representation of the people.


Constitutional Law Lecturer
Lusaka Goldsmiths University

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