Constitutional Changes Pushed By Lungu ‘Will Dig the Grave of Democracy in Zambia’

Constitutional Changes Pushed By Lungu ‘Will Dig the Grave of Democracy in Zambia’
Zambian President Edgar Lungu at the Southern African Development Community’s leaders’ conference in Pretoria, South Africa, Aug. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

With Zambia’s National Assembly set to debate changes to the country’s constitution, President Edgar Lungu appears to be consolidating his party’s power ahead of his 2021 reelection campaign. The proposed changes would give the president unprecedented authority to remove members of the judiciary, eliminate restrictions on his ability to appoint ministers and strip the National Assembly of many of its oversight responsibilities, including fiscal controls. The amendments would also grant the parliamentary body new control over its size, which may give Lungu’s majority Patriotic Front the ability to gerrymander a permanent hold on power.

The bill on the amendments, which was first released for public comment in June, has sparked outrage among opposition parties and civil society groups. Sishuwa Sishuwa, a political science professor at the University of Zambia, told the AFP, “This text will dig the grave of democracy in Zambia.”

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