By Chris Zumani Zimba
- NDF premised on the Theory of “Multiple Modernities” as well as “Multiple Democracies”
At the National Dialogue Forum (NDF), delegates resolved not to ‘copy and paste’ the proposed constitutional and parliamentary legislative amendments but to brainstorm, debate and design laws with a Zambian social, political, economic and structural context and face. In political theory, the NDF operated and validated Professor Noah Eisenstaedt’s theory of ‘Multiple Modernities’1. This theory argues that ‘‘the classical theories of modernization prevalent in the 1950s wrongly assumed that the cultural program of modernity as it developed in Europe and the basic institutional constellations that emerged there would ultimately take over in all modernizing societies and throughout the world because the actual developments in modernizing societies have refuted the homogenizing and hegemonic assumptions of this Western program of modernity. Instead, different regions and states are developing at their own pace, in their own unique pattern and showing a heterogeneous path to their own model of development”1. This was the scholarly spirit and soul of most innovative proposed resolutions at the NDF.
In simple terms, the theory of ‘Multiple Modernities’ postulates that there is a Japanese, Chinese, French, British, Indian, Brazilian, Australian, Russian, Cuban, Malaysian, Egyptian, Spanish, Portuguese, Nigeria, Swedish, Zambian or Mexican unique model of development as well as a European, African, American, Latino or Asian way to modernization as opposed to the assumption of ‘one European size or one American pattern fits all globally’. Thus, the NDF also operated on the classical theory of “Multiple Democracies” which states that “there is what could be termed as European, American, Latino, Asian or African democracy; Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddha or Secular democracy; or British, Iranian, Malagasy, Indian, French, Zambian, Brazilian, Russian, German, Rwandan, Chinese, Venezuelan, Finnish, Nigerian, American or Japanese democracy”2.
This explains why NDF delegates resolved to strengthen the “Christian Nation” clause by recognizing it under National Values and Principles of the Republican Constitution in the name of creating a Christian democracy with a Zambian religious face. And commenting on the suggested coalition government in Zambia, it is not shocking to see our brother, Elias Munshya to be lost as he may not know or understand this theoretical framework delegates at the NDF applied themselves to in innovating and proposing such a cost effective model in electing the Republican President while maintaining the current presidential system as well as the 50% plus 1 majoritarian electoral system under Article 47 and 101.
- Elias Munshya obsessed and lost with “Modernization Theory” on Proposed Coalition Government
When he featured on United Voice Radio’s Add Your Voice Programme on 17th May, 2019, spokesperson of the recently dissolved National Dialogue Forum (NDF), Mr. Isaac Mwanza who is also Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Governance Advisor, made it very simple by clarifying that the idea and rationale of the proposed coalition government to avoid presidential reruns and save tax payers money. “The delegates at the forum thought that the coalition government is one way of avoiding reruns that may be costly to the treasury”, he clarified.
But in his response to Isaac Mwanza’s interview, in part of his latest article with Zambian Observer, Elias Munshya noted that “NDF are saying that if a party gets less than 50%+1, they can then negotiate with another party to make it 50+1. This completely misunderstands Zambia’s presidential electoral system as it currently stands. Zambians do not elect a political party to the presidency. Mr Lungu or Mr Hichilema are candidates and get elected as individuals and not as a political party. They can be sponsored by a political party, but in Zambia, once a president is elected, they are elected as an individual. To say that parties will share and add 50+1 is complete nonsense”. If the NDF is proposing to change Zambia Washington-Westminister hybrid system to a complete Westminster system as obtains in South Africa, let them tell us”. But you cannot force the principle of a coalition on a presidential system we have, it cannot work…. The NDF did not reflect deeply on what they were doing. They were an ad-hoc corrupt mechanism aimed at coming up with amendments to scratch the backs of the ruling Patriotic Front. This has backfired greatly”3, Mr Munshya concludes with fire.
Clearly, what Mr. Munshya is talking here is very different from what the NDF proposed. 1. On the proposed coalition government, NDF delegates never at any point resolve that the president would now be elected using a parliamentary system; 2. NDF did not resolve that the coalition government would be based on 50% plus 1 of political party votes as Munshya concludes from his submissions. And in adding to what Isaac Mwanza said on United Radio: (3) The proposed coalition government by NDF maintains the current presidential system where the Head of State and Government is elected directly by the citizens under Article 47 using the Majoritarian Electoral System where the winning candidate must receive more than 50% of the valid votes cast, and in accordance with Article 101; (4) Here, there is no change to both the governance model and electoral system at presidential level; (5) It is a coalition government lead and negotiated by the topmost presidential candidate (not political party Mr.Munshya) with any of the willing and available presidential candidates in case none attains 50% plus 1 in order to achieve a majoritarian winning threshold without prioritizing going for an expensive rerun; (6) In addition, it is imperative to note that the formation of this coalition government will have a timeframe (7 days or so); and (4) If this fails, then the top two contenders will battle it in a rerun within 30 days as already provided for. Do we surely need a parliamentary system for this to happen? Is this so complex for Munshya or Zambians?
My appeal to Munshya is let honest, factual and sober debate prevail in the spirit of One Zambia, One Nation than spearheading political falsehoods and academic gossips. We all know the history and dominance practice of coalition governments. Yes, they are common in parliamentary democratic systems as opposed to presidential systems on the premise that no party on its own can achieve a majoritarian popular legitimacy in the legislature and consequently form government. But this does not mean coalition governments cannot be innovated in a presidential system. As a Canadian resident and diaspora lawyer who is repeatedly boasting of having 7 degrees, Munshya’s biased and Eurocentric understanding of coalition governments is restricted within the modernization theory4 of “One Western Size Fits All Globally” and is intentionally refusing to think typical African and Zambian. He seems to be a sound academic disciple of WW Rostow and Francis Fukuyama of ‘‘The End of History and the Last Man’’ who worship the idea that the entire world will and must follow the American and European pattern of modernization and democratization respectively. From his submission, it seems our good brother is intellectually lost and merely making good democratic noise in the diaspora as a passionate critic of the NDF because what he is saying is not what NDF resolved nor debated in the house.
By saying that coalition government are “always formed in parliament systems”, Munshya losses it asunder. Allan Mandidi makes a better explanation and response to Munshya when he says, “50 Plus 1 is a majority electoral system that attempts to provide for a greater degree of representativeness by making sure that the leading presidential candidate achieve a majority of votes in order to win. In a scenario where after a general election, no one has managed to secure a majority vote in the first round, then they can be either a provision for a coalition government (depending on country to country) or the top two candidates in the first round can move on to the second round (re-run)”5, he concludes. Mandidi equally proposed a coalition government in a presidential system like Zambia as the first political and electoral option before considering a re-run. Maybe, Munshya is not aware that such can exist or created depending on country-to-country basis. This is where NDF leaves him too behind and far on this topic.
To our brother Munshya, he needs to pose and take another glass of mineral water in Canada because, he is in a hurry to critic the NDF proposed coalition government model without understanding the core details of how it works, why as well as ascertain which theoretical apparatus is being applied in context. Recognizing that he is locking his intellectual mind into a standard monopolized discourse as well as colonized comparative analogue by restricting the debate to either a classical parliamentary or presidential system, it is clear that Munshya is lost on the proposed coalition government and only making democratic noise in the diaspora as a good Zambian. He is so biased to maintaining the Westernization order of thinking and doing business by only using “modernization theory” in political comparative analysis when Zambia through the NDF has moved far ahead to using the theories of “multiple modernities” as well as “multiple democracies”. I suppose our brother needs an eighth (8) degree in “Hybrid Political and Electoral Systems” or “Multiple Modernities and Multiple Democracies “and Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) will prepare the course outline for him free of charge.
- Eisenstadt N.S, ‘‘Multiple Modernities’’,Winter 2000:129.1, Research Library Core: Daedalus, page 1,2
- Zimba C.Z. (2012:45,59) “Multiple Democracies, The Impact Of Religion On Global Democracy Configurations: Cases Of Zambia, Russia, Egypt, Iran, Taiwan, China India And Germany”, Univeristy of Osnabrueck, Osnabrueck
- Fukuyama F, (1992), ‘‘The End of History and the Last Man’’, Penguin: New York; http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/fukuyama.htm Retrieved 04/03/18
- Allan Mandindi, (2019:1), “What is 50 plus 1 Electoral System?”, accessed from https://allanmndindi.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/what-is-50-plus-1-electoral-system/ Retrieved on 17-05-2019
- Elias Munshya, (2019:1) “The NDF, Coalitions and why Mr. Isaac Mwanza is not Making Sense – Lawyer Munshya” accessed from https://www.zambianobserver.com/the-ndf-coalitions-and-why-mr-isaac-mwanza-is-not-making-sense-lawyer-munshya/ Retrieved on 18-05-2019
Chris Zumani Zimba is a prolific Political Scientist, Policy Analyst, Author, Blogger, PhD Scholar, Researcher, Consultant, Public Health and Tobacco Control Advocate. Besides being the CEO at Chrizzima Democracy University (CDU) in Zambia, he analyses African politics weekly on Voice of the Cape Town, South Africa every Wednesday at 16:45hours CAT. So far, he has authored more than 10 political and academic books as well as published over 100 well researched articles on African politics and public health. Sometimes, he lectures Political Science-Part Time with University of Zambia (UNZA) and University of Lusaka (UNILUS) outside his usual commitments. Chriszumanizimba.firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; +260 973 153 815 for calls or WhatsApp