The provision of checks and balances is a stipulated undertaking guaranteed within the emblems of democratic practice and governance. It comes within the need for there to be counsel and guidance on the implementation of issues and execution of power.
Typically, it must be provided by experts in a particular field who may not be in governance themselves but have an interest in the advancement of the excellence of their area of concern. In this vain, prominent well experienced economists will provide advice on issues of national development and fiscal policy, similarly, retired military commanders will guide on foreign policy should it concern the ambits of defence protocols. Well vested civil servants of a previous generation can bring to light the manner in which they may have handled critical issues when they were brought before their tables, while civil society and academia that carries out up-to-date research in a particular field can equally provide alternative evidence when it realises that the existing practice differs from its findings of the actual state of things.
These are checks and balances; guidance, advice, motivations, encouragements (etc), provided to a ruling regime by a patriotic sector of society that is well vested in the topic in question with the intention of ensuring social, economic or geopolitical development for the good of the greater society and preventing the abuse of power by certain sections.
Checks and balances therefore can be prescribed within a limited boundary and stipulated method. Because it is the interest of the public that is of concern, there is a process that must therefore be followed to separate checks and balances from social chatter. They must be particularly identified as being the opinions of experts who have the academic qualification, technocratic know-how, previous experience or current involvement in an issue.
Checks and Balances in a typical system are very easy to separate from any other forms of political engagements because they are presented in a sematic manner that brings issues directly to the attention of policy makers and not for the purpose of seeking public clout. The provision of these (extremely) significant democratic practices are for the interest of the citizenry; the good of the state. It is not for the glory of the individual as a champion of a particular idea or assumed movement. This is ideally the reserve of those whose practice is determined as being a patriotic act derived from an internal move for the good of society. Those compelled by the fact that they have the experience, the knowhow or the education that may be much required at a particular point in governance.
It must be realised from the onset that these systems were designed following years of tests and trials. The Democratic system itself spans from years of failed constitutions, several disagreements and constant evolution to eventually have landed on the present day assumption that places liberal democracy as being the most probable form of political governance. It is this same tried and tested system that determines that in order for the function of the state to be free of the excesses of power, there must exist the three arms of government being the Judiciary, the Executive and the Legislature.
This is the second time in political study that the concept of checks and balances is mentioned. In this instance, the practice is the reserve of three separate arms of government whose duties are clearly defined and designed in such a way as to reduce the influence of power that one arm may have on the people. Even in this instance, Checks and Balances must and can only be provided for the interest of the public good; the national interest. For the People!
These concepts are often used but hardly understood even in everyday politics. We often misunderstand them intentionally in order to facilitate our abilities to access certain powers that are in fact not allotted to us in the system we proclaim with grandeur as being our most preferred system of governance – We intentionally oversight the stipulations as and when it favours us and then blame the system itself when we eventually find ourselves facing the repercussions of stepping outside the prescriptions of our governance style. After all, it exists in a society, among people of various religions, backgrounds and social affiliations who all concede to a given practice and agree to be governed in that fashion through a provided procedure. In the case of Zambia, this procedure is clearly stipulated in the constitution and further enforced by the cultural and social norms that exist among us.
It is no surprise that we have found ourselves in the midst of several ‘messiahs’ championing causes whose knowhow they are completely bankrupt and who themselves are motivated by the hope for remuneration from their actions. This places us at great risk for the future; that should we blatantly set aside the prescribed channels through which we may air our grievances for the sake of fitting into pop-culture and emulating the practices of other societies, we will find ourselves in the open as and when genuine calls for social changes are needed.
Our greatest bet remains to strengthen the systems that currently exist and the channels through which check and balances can already be provided because our being outside of the alleged beneficiaries does not make us automatically wiser than those who speak less than us on the inside; they follow procedure and it actually results in change.
We must avoid these confrontational attitudes that end up presenting us as enemies of the system even when we are also merely trying to contribute. It is only imperative that the system will automatically go into its defensive mode should it feel attacked instead of counselled by any sector. It is also designed however, to respond to sectors that seek to provide progressive assistance for the development of the greater society. There is room for us to continue growing as we learn how best these systems function in our ever evolving societies. In achieving this, there is no us and them; we are in this together; Zambians, young and old; all trying their best to create for themselves a space that facilitates growth and prosperity for the present and the future. May God help us in this vein.