Zambia's controversial bid to amend constitution flops

Friday October 30 2020

Zambian President Edgar Lungu (centre) at Heroes Stadium in the capital Lusaka n September 13, 2016, before he was sworn in as the re-elected head of state. The constitutional reforms would have sharply increased his powers ahead of elections in 2021. FILE PHOTO | AFP


Zambia’s controversial constitutional amendment Bill failed on Thursday in a vote in parliament amid vehement opposition by civil society and other political parties.

The law, had it come into effect, sought to change the basic structure of the country’s constitution which was amended in 2016.

Bill 10, as it was called, would have extended the executive powers to appoint judges and ministers and allow changes to the electoral map.

The Bill, sponsored by the ruling Patriotic Front party, was seen by the opposition as electioneering as it would have allowed the government to create several constituencies in its strongholds.

The Law Association of Zambia president Abyud Shonga said before the vote that the sought changes “lacked consensus”.

After the vote, Zambia Justice Minister Given Lubinda described the collapsed Constitution Amendment Bill Number 10 of 2020 as “a temporary setback.”


Despite the ruling party having a majority in Parliament, the Bill failed through the Second Reading as Members of Parliament who voted in its favour did not garner the two-thirds threshold required for a constitutional Bill.

Votes cast for the Bill were 105, falling short of six votes needed to attain the 111 two-thirds majority vote.

Zambia's general election is slated for 2021.