2014 Tutu Fellow Linda Kasonde has announced the formation of a new organization called Chapter One Foundation, which she says will be used to promote human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law in Zambia. It will do so through litigation, advocacy and civic education. Linda says the foundation was named after Chapter One of the Laws of Zambia, which enshrines the Constitution as the supreme law by which every Zambian, regardless of status, is bound.
Chapter One is already petitioning the Constitutional Court on a matter of law in which it argues a bill limiting how the President can be removed from power is unconstitutional.
The foundation is financially supported by the Swedish Embassy, the National Endowment for Democracy, ActionAid Zambia and Caritas Zambia who all recognise the growing need to defend the civic space in Zambia. Linda said that it was the foundation's goal to see a Zambia where citizens are freely and actively participating in the governance of Zambia. Linda, who is the Executive Director of the foundation, says putting human rights at the core of the organisation will allow “we the people” in the constitution to take its rightful place in ensuring citizens can be the authors of Zambia's destiny.
The suit the foundation has filed in which it is petitioning the Constitutional Court and seeking a declaration that Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No. 10 of 2019 violates the national values and principles in the constitution. The bill it says is unconstitutional limits the powers of the National Assembly from determining whether or not the President ought to be impeached.
In an interview carried by The Mast, she said that human rights, the people that defend human rights, constitutionalism and the rule of law are facing a growing threat the world over and that Zambia was no exception. Increased inequality, growing populism and weakening of public institutions and public accountability were affecting Zambia's ability to deliver on the sustainable development goals that the country has signed up to. She said that the mere existence of public institutions was not enough to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights; these public institutions must also be guided by certain principles that ensure the institutions truly function for the benefit of society.
Linda is a lawyer and civil rights activist who was elected Zambia's first female President of the Law Association; first named partner in her firm Mulenga, Mundashi, Kasonde; and is the Vice President for Africa for the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. Chapter One Foundation was officially launched on 5 September 2019.