The Zambian Constitution Debate part 2: The Philosophical Roots of the Debate

By Chanda Chisala, 11 June 2007
In part 1, I argued that everyone who's been saying that their position was representing the "will of the people" has essentially just been lying. Since I published that article, some events have developed which indeed logically and unquestionably confirm my analysis. The Post newspaper wrote through their editorial that they would use their resources to basically campaign to make people to vote for the constituent assembly in a referendum. The Catholic church leaders, who have also been active in this debate particularly through the "Oasis Forum", also said they would campaign among (or "sensitize") their members and the public at large to vote for the constituent assembly. But logically, what does this mean? It means that both the Post and the Catholic leaders were not telling the truth all along when they were "arguing" that their position represented the will of the people! If it was true that this is already what the people wanted, then why do they want to "convince" and "sensitize" the people to choose what they already want? That's a contradiction, and it confirms beyond a shadow of doubt that whoever has been claiming that his position represents "the will of the people" has been totally dishonest.

In this article, I will touch on the heart of the constitutional debate. A lot of people have wondered why this debate is so hot, and why many people seem so unreasonable even on issues that could easily be resolved through much simpler and cheaper means. What is it that is causing generally honest people to even go as far as lying in order to push their way through?

The reason this issue is so hot is that at the heart of it, it's not just about constituent assembly versus parliament adoption, and so on. At the very heart of the debate is a philosophical issue, an issue of ideology. Most people do not know this and they are just "debating" blindly, without realizing what the agenda of some of their more idealistic friends is. This will of course shock some people, but it is better to know what you are involving yourself in so that you could make an informed decision where you stand instead of just blindly supporting some groups just because they are in the opposition or NGO world (euphemistically called "civil society").

Believe it or not, the reason that our Post editors and other intellectuals like Father Henriot of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection are so passionate about this issue is because the new constitution is supposed to make socialism the official and only legal economic policy of Zambia. In short, once this new constitution is adopted, capitalism will forever become officially illegal in Zambia, and socialism will be the only permitted economic policy. This is the real agenda of that small clique of intellectuals who are driving this debate (while the rest are just following either blindly or for their own political or even monetary reasons).

I'm sure you don't believe this. It sounds like the paranoid imaginations of a writer who is so obsessed with promoting his own philosophy that he sees danger where there is no real danger. But since I believe in proving things logically and from reality, I will do just that.

Father Henriott has been one of the most vocal proponents of the constituent assembly. Note also that his organization has been involved for many years in a project of publishing what they call the "food basket" every single month, which determines how much money a poor family in Zambia needs to "survive". Their point in all this has been to make government do things like raise the minimum wage, control prices, and so on.

The editors of the Post have also never made a secret of the fact that they believe in special "rights of the poor" and so on, and that the government must ensure that these are "respected". The other columnists in the Post who have also been most vocal on the constitutional debate are also very clear socialists, and even Marxists. One of them even has a picture of himself with a little communist goatie beard on his column (the irony, of course, is that he is holding a cell phone to his ear in this photograph, and he doesn't see how this one item ruthlessly contradicts the very essence of his weekly "anti-capitalist, anti-globalisation" articles!).

So, how do these ladies and gentlemen hope to make socialism the official and only legal national policy of Zambia? This is interesting and it is the only reason that this debate has failed to be peacefully concluded. Although the government has said they can amend every single part of the constitution that is unpopular without having to go to the constituent assembly, these gentlemen do not want this process because it will not change the Bill of Rights. The way our constitution is structured is such that parliament can not actually amend the Bill of Rights; it can only be changed by adopting a new constitution altogether. Government has argued that this will be an expensive process for nothing because the same constitution says that in order to do this, a referendum is needed, and even a census, and so on. Our intellectuals have insisted that whatever the cost, even if it means violating the current constitution, this Bill of Rights has to be changed. As an excuse for saying that even the constitution can be violated, they are arguing that constitutional change is a "political process" and not a legal process, and so on. But at the heart of the matter, at the very root of this debate, is just this dream of making Zambia a socialist haven.

The reason is that the part of this Bill of Rights that they want to so passionately change is the one that will make socialism the official policy of Zambia, the ideology that they have been fighting for through their NGO's and newspaper columns. It's the part that is supposed to give "economic rights" to the poor people of Zambia. These economic rights of course sound innocent at first sight, but when you see the details you realise exactly why this is the most dangerous and most evil plot of our socialist gang of "intellectuals".

They want government to be constitutionally obliged to forcefully take money from the producers to the poorest people so that we may all be "equal". This is the foundation of socialist philosophy and it is the idea that has been most responsible for the destruction of economies in the entire history of the world. One of these same Marxist columnists of the Post newspaper last week gave Cuba as an example of a country that has observed these economic rights constitutionally for many decades, although in the same column he informed us that Cuba is a very poor country! He couldn't see that this undermined the point of his own article, but unfortunately, this is very usual for Marxist and socialist "intellectuals": they never see the inevitable contradictions in their writings because they have trained their minds to be thoroughly dishonest, and thus oblivious to obvious logical contradictions.

My simple position on this debate, and I know I will lose because there are too few people on my side in this battle of ideas, is that the Bill of Rights should not be changed at all. The reason I will lose this battle is that I can not convince enough people to realise that socialism is not the way for our country to go, especially at such a serious constitutional level. I can not convince enough people that socialism is evil, it is destructive, and it is totally immoral. If most people in our country respected the power and primacy of logic (i.e non-contradictory thinking), we would indeed have a mighty intellectual force fighting against this fatal imposition of irrational ideas on our nation.

I know that President Mwanawasa is basically an honest man who believes passionately in the principle of respecting human rights. The Marxists are trying to get to him and others by presenting their socialist agenda in the Bill of Rights as "economic rights" or "second generation rights" or "social and cultural rights" and so on. Their trick is to hoodwink everyone who believes in human rights to think that these proposals are actually about respecting human rights, so that they can fail to fight them with enough passion and moral rectitude. After all, how can anyone fight against "human rights"?

But the reality is that these are not rights at all. They are in fact the very opposite: they are violations of human rights. By appealing to our emotions since they know that we all care for the poor, they want us to ignore the fact that they are proposing another violation of rights. They want us to ignore the fact that the producers who will pay for these needs are also humans and they also have rights. This is the fundamental error of all socialist agendas.

You see, government does not make any money. All its money comes from taxes. By making a law that forces government to directly meet the needs of the poor (including free housing, full employment, etc), you are effectively making a law that forces producers to work for the poor, thus subjugating production to consumption. And if you think about it, you can easily see why this is the quickest path to economic suicide.

The reason capitalist (or mostly capitalist) societies become wealthy is simply because they try as much as possible to encourage the producer instead of discouraging him. They believe that the producer is the one who will create jobs for people and enable them to meet their own needs instead of relying on handouts from government.

Some people argue that socialism is rife even in these so-called capitalist nations (like European countries) and yet they are still rich. But you are forgetting that they were not like this when they were starting out. They were almost pure capitalists when they started off and decided to start doing these things only when they had become rich. Their taxes were not high originally, they did not have their social welfare programs, minimum wage laws, price controls, etc. They did not have all these expensive social programs that take capital from the producers to the consumers; instead they left the producer alone so that he could create the wealth. They only started doing these big socialist things when they thought they were now rich enough to afford it. We, on the other hand, are following the advice of some stupid donors and blind intellectuals who want us to start doing these things now, while we are so poor, by even putting them into our constitution. This will be the most deadly experiment in the history of humanity, and unfortunately, almost the entire African continent is ignorantly buying into it.

If only our leaders could realise exactly what is happening at the root of this constitutional debate, we could be saved from this massive economic atrocity that will visit us if we grant the socialists and their local pawns their ultimate dream of a constitutionally established socialist utopia. I think President Mwanawasa has enough intellectual independence and moral courage to fight this battle even more aggressively if he saw exactly where some of the proponents of the new constitution are coming from, ideologically. He is probably the only hope we have before we collectively surrender to the irrational forces of this evil road that leads directly to the very bottom of hell.

To comment on this article, go to ARTICLES COMMENTS FORUM | Back to Zambia Online