OPINION: UPND Squabbles Could Have Triggered Constitutional Crisis Had they won

By Dickson Jere

The ongoing cracks in the top leadership of the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) brings to the fore the practicality of Article 110 of our Republican Constitution – the clause that introduced the Vice President as running mate. Just imagine if UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema won the 2016 presidential vote and Godfrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) as his running mate was his Vice President. The current differences, even though internal party squabbles, would have presented a constitutional crisis for the country! As President, you cannot fire your running mate or Vice President. I have always thought we need to re-think about that running mate clause! It can be very problematic!


Let’s take a look at our next door neighbor Malawi.

It has a similar running mate clause. But the experience there calls for re-think. All the three running mates who became Vice Presidents of Malawi ended up differing with the President. And the President could not fire them thereby creating a constitutional crisis. For example, President Bingu Wa Mutharika had to send his running mate and Vice President Cassim Chilumpha to prison for treason! But he remained Veep while in remand prison. In his second term, Mutharika differed with his new Vice President Joyce Banda. He kicked her out of the ruling party but she remained constitutionally a Vice President of Malawi even after she formed her own party. When Mutharika died, she assumed the Presidency even though she was an opposition leader! Currently, President Peter Wa Mutharika (younger brother) has differed with his Vice President Saulos Chilima. And so you have the Vice President, who formed his own party and now standing against his boss in the coming elections but he remains Vice President of the Republic! Classic right?

As for the current arrangement in Zambia, it appears to be working largely because Vice President Mama Inonge Wina appears to be elderly, mature and reserved. She is not power hungry as was the case with Malawi Vice Presidents. She keeps to her lane. Imagine having a Vice President with naked presidential ambitions? Friction will be the order of the day!

You see, Zambian political parties have had problems with Vice Presidents. The then ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) had to freeze the veep post, twice, at the convention. This was under President Levy Mwanawasa and Rupiah Banda, respectively. The freezing was aimed at bringing harmony in the party and therefore the party operated without one. Even the PF in opposition, operated for very long time without Vice President. So the troubles in UPND are not new when it comes to Vice President. Since it’s formation, it has had eight Vice Presidents but only two Presidents. These are; John Mulwila, SC, Patrick Chisanga, Bob Sichinga, Sakwiba Sikota, SC, Canicius Banda, Richard Kapita, Francis Simenda and GBM. Off course the high number could also be attributed to the fact that it has two Vice Presidents at a go…

So as the National Dialogue starts deliberations on the Constitution next week, the running mate clause must be re-looked given the lessons and circumstances highlighted above. What happens when the Vice President goes wayward? Or decides to challenge the boss while holding the office? Or if he is fired from the ruling party? These must be fine-tuned! Yes, it has worked well in the US but it hasn’t in Malawi!

Have a peaceful and holy Easter!


  1. Wantop

    Powerful article,excellent observation

    • Wezi

      Just as well these two never made it to plot 1. We would have ended up like Malawi.

    • MB

      SweboTuyanda Jack Mwiimbu or Mwetwa olo Mutinta kuti a akhale Visi PuleIdenti was UPND kambo Mutonga

      • Daniel Banda

        How else would tribalism be defined more than what is demonstrated by this Kruger sentiment?

    • Future President

      GBM has advised hh to stop politics of divide and rule,speaking this morning at a press briefing were he has announced his resignation from the upnd to re join the pf,GBM vowels to work closely with ecl to ensure that hh does not win in 2021.

      • Future President

        Kbf promises to run for presidency in 2021 under the pf and has advised ecl to hand over the mantle of pf leadership to him.

  2. Youth movement

    Good observation Mr jere,a wise message can only be expected from a mature,patriotic and responsible Zambian.

  3. Simpito Mukandwa

    Awe Mwandini it’s true

  4. grade 12 failler gbm

    Vote me i will charge something

  5. King cool

    Sata was a big brain, he knew all of these problems


    GBM wecome to NDC but nor post will be given we need to reform PF from MMPFD to NDC

  7. Kapondo

    Some writing ,so you can’t think that if they were in govt all this was not going to be there

    • Dude

      It would have happened cuz Gbm would have wanted to become the president after had served one term. Just about this time.

    • Jerabo

      @Kapondo I ask the same question don’t we have probing minds in Zambia? Had the UPND won this would not be happening. Yenangu ma analysis!! Yayi mwe!

  8. BLSimpamba

    This article is satisfactory,now is up to you how you would comment on this article? GBM isbooted out due to misbehaving.

  9. Napita

    When developing the clause that talks about the running mate,the consideration was entirely based on fact that the money be saved in case of the demise of the president,they didn’t think about all these important facts .of course,this clause must be revised to instill respect and fear into the veeps .As it’s now, president cannot command respect from their veeps knowing they cannot fire them.

  10. Mpombo

    Can’t wait for GBM to start unleashing a torrent of insults on UPND for having used him to cleanse their tribal tag.Go on GBM ala batuke ishine shine kumo naba nyina bo.

    • Dube

      I hear is away in south Africa. I think he will come with new versions of insults. Updated ones.

  11. mumba

    Bushe Mpombo ulofwa bwino isha munishingo nga shafunfumuka muli ba ……. shiiiiii ..kampanda?


      Good analysis. Let’s have a vice president who is a running mate but can be fired and replaced by the president subject to parliamentary approval, and can replace the president without by elections in case of any eventuality. I also thought about it when I read about Malawi.

  12. Bruno mars the moonshine jungle master

    Let him go

  13. Smart k

    Mpombo taumfwa mwandi ati abatuke ishine shine.

  14. Central power

    GBM has come back to his senses how can u join a group and given a post that u can’t manage.just keep quite and don’t off load ifyabufi from upnd.

  15. Geoffrey kabwe

    Scrap off that article,people I’ll be killing one another serous,nice analysis big man

  16. Wise me

    Spiritually, what this man and his late God-father have been doing is known as building a house on the sand which will not be able to withstand the coming storm. I am saying this because previously when a certain leadership started abusing public resources while making news-headlines, I used to tell my friends and family that the MMD were building their house on sand and it came to pass. Equally when UNIP’s leadership allowed cadres called vigilantees to control the distribution of scarce commodities and beating citizens who queued at the shops to buy, I would say KK was building his house on the sand. Because biblically God wouldn’t allow deicitful leadership and oppression of his people pepertually. This came to pass. PF should take heed also if you knowingly are letting some sections of society to suffer, you are also building your house on sand. This will come to pass as well. Don’t forget we shall all die and be judged. Where will you be on that day and moment? Let all deceitiful leaders heed this Easter message and reflect on it.

  17. Sibweni

    A runing mate clause as 2 b removed in our constitution 2 avoid fightin 4 power lik malawi. I see weakness in this clause bcoz vice president decides 2 challenge sitting president 2 decampaign them. District council chairperson must go 2 bcoz i don’t see they job and district problem are looked after by DC’S

  18. bushdoctor

    Thanks for the great article on the Constitution lacuna on vice presidency. Hope this will be addressed before 2021. Bushdoctor note with sadness on squabbling in all parties,but knowing that we are maturing to full democracy in Zambia. We’re in the right gear and come 2031 after Pf,only an opposition party shall rule. Parties have come and gone before and after 1964. But briefly let us start with UNIP, MMD, PF and….. Do you see what bushdoctor sees. A one worded political party will come to the scene and rule just like it is in matured democracies, Democrats vs Republicans,labour vs conservatives. See.

  19. FGM

    A very good observation! But we should find a way of erasing by elections in our constitution. I hope pride and greedy will not supersede Zambian patriotism.

  20. Truth man

    The vice president once voted into office becomes a constitutional position.Therefore his/ her duties are and powers so to say are prescribed in the same constitution and so are the Presidents.Therefore it only becomes a problem where functions of the two offices are not prescribed in the constitution!! Read the Zambian constitution.

  21. FGM

    These are some of the political squabbles that will keep Zambia in the reverse gear for many years. Zambia deserves to move forward . we have been in the economic doldrums for too long. Zambians should be magnanimous enough and decide and design their destination.

  22. Coca fanta

    Nice analysis big man one Zambia one nation

  23. Joshua

    GBM, he is behavers like a kid, you can join PF.

  24. Tompwe

    Walasa apopena, Jere. We have to re-think and do the needful.

  25. Paul liula

    When 2 Elephants are fighting its the glass that suffers. Zambians will dance to their tunes left right wait and see.Wake up “Mother Zambia” The country is slowly getting divided. This is an eye opener, keep up man good observation.

  26. manasseh

    am afraid

  27. Hev rena

    Well functioning Democraticies allow for only 2 political parties. This ensures that we have credible parties that can not be used as stooges or vuvuzelas of the ruling party. Too many parties simply split votes giving ruling parties an upper hand. There is just too much jostling for presidency.

  28. Austin phiri

    UPND forward

  29. Kruger

    The Zambian constitution had been drafted by so called learned men of the nation,shame on them.they have always betrayed us ,due to greed and inclination.Here we are Diloque forum,the betrayal awaits us.Let us the citizrns decide amendments to the contitution,please heed our demand.this forum is ill intendend,i rest case

  30. jm

    even if he leaves as will keep on being strong everyday everytime and moving forward, only wishing him gud luck

  31. Slimly Homly

    God Knows Everything, Let him do what he want to do to ecl.

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  33. Nimrod

    Hh betrayed the referendum for the bill of rights and you blind followers you just accept everything that comes from his slumber. Look now his MPs are tired of him, 14 of them are saying enough is enough, they have defile his little brain. Southerners think he is the godfather.

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