THERE is a lot of public debate surrounding the Constitutional clause which requires people seeking elective office to possess a minimum of a Grade 12 school certificate or its equivalent.
Article 70 (1) (d) of the amended Constitution prescribes than any individual seeking presidential parliamentary, mayoral or ward office, should possess a grade 12 certificate or its equivalent.
The Constitution amendment process began with a collection of submissions from Zambians countrywide for the purpose of realising a people driven supreme law of the land.
Before the Bill was taken to Parliament for amendment, a Draft Constitution was circulated to members of the public so that clauses requiring amendment could be brought to the fore.
Additionally, when the Bill was taken to Parliament for amendment, law makers had the discretion to subject article 70 to alteration before assent by the Republican president in January this year.
Since January 5, when President Edgar Lungu assented to the Bill, various sections of society have come out complaining that the Grade 12 clause has discriminated Zambians from vying for political office.
Others have apportioned the blame on what they call a selective education system where only a handful of people are said to be attaining education from primary to tertiary level.
It suffices to say that the blame here should not be apportioned on a single individual but all of us who had an opportunity to play a part in ensuring that the clause was amended.
On this issue, there is no majority or minority. In this day and age, education is very key and its time that Zambia took a shift from the ordinary way of doing things to the innovative.
This week I have voiced my opinion along with a consultative sample of ordinary members of the public, colleagues and friends who have given their personal opinion on this issue.
I have safely concluded that it is prudent now more than ever that a person presiding over any wing of government attains some respectable form of education, to articulate issues well.
The ability to read and write is essential for political office bearers for the purpose of not only policy formulation bust also implementation.
Zambia is lagging behind in development because at some stage of policy implementation, the required individual skills and competences are not just there.
The world is now a global village and to operationalise all these sophisticated gadgets requires one to have the capacity to read and write.
Thus the Grade 12 certificate requirement for political office seekers is a welcome development and it was the right choice by Zambians to include it in the Constitution.
In my view, going forward, the Constitution should be amended further by stating that political office bearers have a certain standard of tertiary education.
This is standard practice in the corporate world where even security personnel are being asked to produce secondary and tertiary school qualifications prior to engagement.
President Lungu has directed the Constitutional Court, which was recently inaugurated to interpret the clause so as to ease understanding among the people.
Certainly the court will also provide some useful recommendations on how this issue can be put to bed once and for all.
The Examination Council of Zambia and the Electoral Commission of Zambia should also work closely to ensure that the transcripts being handed in for verification are genuine.
The possibility of people forging Grade 12 certificates, presenting the infamous ‘Matero’ copies cuts across anybody and should not be aligned to only a specific segment.