The government should immediately establish a referendum commission as well as set the date for the referendum as the draft constitution that is now in the hands of the public reflects the full aspirations and wishes of the people, Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe has said.
Ntewewe said government had missed its opportunity to release the final draft constitution to the public and it was therefore important that the debate about its release was now closed so that people could focus on the national referendum.
Ntewewe told the Sunday Nation from Kasama that government through Vice-President Guy Scott has admitted that the document that was published by an online publication was original and authentic and should therefore stop harassing the technical committee over its release.
Ntewewe said the CSOs would now embark on sensitizing citizens across the country on the contents of the draft constitution to prepare them for the holding of a referendum. He said CSO would make sure that the people both urban and rural understood the contents of the constitution since the document was now in public hands.
“We are happy that the document is now in public and our focus now should be the referendum. Government missed its opportunity to release the document and now that we have it, we demand that President Sata should establish a referendum commission. He must with immediate effect set the date of the referendum because we do not want this exercise to be delayed any further. We only have 2014 for the referendum because 2015 will be an electioneering period,” Ntewewe said.
He said it was too late for government to deny the authenticity of the draft constitution that was now in public domain because Information and Broadcasting Minister Mwansa Kapeya was on record that government had received the document and was studying it.
The YALI chief said while government was considering investigating members of the technical committee over the release of the draft constitution, President Sata should inform Zambians of the next step in the constitution making process.
Ntewewe said his organisations would be conferring with the Acting Chief Justice Chibesakunda over the conflicting statements from government ministers on the constitution.