MMD president Nevers Mumba says political parties calling for a constitutional referendum before 2016 lack the understanding of Government functions.
And Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) has commended Government over the various pronouncements made towards their commitment towards giving Zambians a new Republican Constitution.
Dr Mumba said there were ‘‘challenging imperatives’’ attached to the enactment of the Constitution that would require enough time to address and as such, it was practically impossible to enact a Constitution through a referendum before 2016.
“Owing to the challenging imperatives related to costs, logistics and public sensitisation in at least 150 constituencies, it is almost impossible to enact the current draft Constitution before the 2016 general election because it contains amendments to the Bill of Rights which require a referendum to be held first. The Bill of Rights can only be legally amended via a referendum,” he said.
Dr Mumba said a referendum required funding, planning, sensitizing the public and other logistics of which it was practically impossible to achieve within 18 months.
He said his party had opted for a practical and result-oriented approach to amend parts of the Constitution. But the Grand Coalition on a people-driven Constitution has strongly objected to Government’s suggestion of amending the current Constitutions in parts.
Grand Coalition spokesperson McDonald Chipenzi has said there was need to look at the matter from a national interest point of view as opposed to partisan interest, adding that the Bill of Rights protected the vulnerable people in society.
“We can only adopt the Constitution through a national referendum and not amending the Constitution in parts as this will leave out the fundamental rights enshrined under the Bill of Rights.
This document must be approached with an objective mind.
‘’This is not a partisan document, it a national document, it’s a document that will protect all Zambians. Even those that a have taken partisan interest will be protected by this Constitution when they have left office,’’ said Mr Chipenzi,
But YALI president Andrew Ntewewe said his organisation was in agreement with the views so far expressed by President Edgar Lungu and the chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili on the mode of adopting and enacting the Constitution. Mr Ntewewe said as YALI they had suggested alternative methods of adopting the new laws which did not require a referendum, while preparations continue on holding a referendum for the adoption of the Bill of Rights.
“YALI would like to put it on record that we are in agreement with the view expressed by the Government on the mode of adoption and enactment of the new Constitution.
“Recently, YALI had suggested that the adoption and enactment of the new Constitution be divided into two components. YALI advocated a two-pronged strategy that ensures that all clauses of the final draft Constitution that do not require a Referendum be enacted through Parliament, while on the other hand ensure that processes of adopting the Bill of Rights through a national referendum are put in place,” he said. He said it was therefore in order to commend the pronouncement made by the Government to move in the direction of the proposals put forward towards the conclusion of the constitution-making process.
Mr Ntewewe appealed to all the Members of Parliament to support the proposed roadmap including the suggested legal framework as a sure way of making headway to the conclusion of the current constitution- making process.