ENACTING a people-driven Constitution thr0ugh a referendum will fail under the current law because it requires 50 percent of eligible voters to pass it, Christian Democratic Party president Dan Pule has said.
And the newly found United Front for Democracy (UFD) will next week meet President Edgar Lungu’s Government to chart the way forward on the constitutional-making process ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Addressing the media yesterday, CDP leader Dan Pule said the referendum would fail to attain the 50 percent vote threshold to enact a new Constitution.
“Let me assure you I know what I am talking about that the referendum will fail under the current law. You recall that it requires 50 percent of the registered voters to vote. So if you don’t get the 50 per cent eligible voters’ to go and cast their vote and if Government fails to capture the 50 percent eligible voters then the referendum has failed and that will take another dimension,” said Dr. Pule.
He said it was therefore important that people advocating the enactment of the new Constitution through a referendum exhibit high levels of intelligence and a spirit of give and take in the constitution-making process.
Dr. Pule said stakeholders advocating a referendum should realise that from the 2011 and 2015 elections, results have shown that the country had failed to attain a 50 per cent voter turnout.
“That means that Government will have to register all those eligible voters in readiness for the referendum. But if you also want to base it on the 2010 census it will fail because it will not reflect the eligible voters in that particular referendum.
The referendum requires a total of 50 percent and more to pass the Constitution, and when you look at the pattern of voting in Zambia, people don’t vote and hence the referendum will fail,” he said.
And UFD spokesperson Tentani Mwanzah said the consortium of opposition political parties were of the view that Zambians support Government’s proposal to amend the current Constitution with priority on critical clauses.
Mr. Mwanzah who spoke on behalf of All People’s Congress, People’s Party, ZDDM and CDPs said President Lungu had shown commitment in the constitution-making process.
“The PF Government has now released a roadmap which includes the presentation of a Constitution bill at the next sitting of Parliament which will address all contentious issues except those which fall under Article 79 which require a referendum. The proposal is that for those issues where a referendum is a must, such as the Bill of Rights, the referendum vote be held concurrently with the tripartite elections next year,” said Mr. Mwanzah.
He said the UFD was aware that there were some sectors of society who were opposed to the piece meal amendments of the Constitution, but that failure to go that way, Zambia will fail to hold elections next year with a 50 percent plus one vote.
“These are critical times in our country in the constitution making process. Critical times demands resolutions befitting peculiar circumstances.
As political parties, constituting the UFD, we do pledge here and now to play our role in finding a workable solution to the impasse taking into account the fact that if the Government was to live by their word the country would have made major strides in the quest to have a people-driven Constitution before the 2016 elections,” Mr Mwanzah said.
He said the consortium would engage Government on the constitution making process before the proposed constitution bill was finally tabled before Parliament for enactment in the next sitting.
“As UFD we affirm our commitment to constructively engage Government on the constitution making process before the proposed constitutional bill is finally tabled before parliament for the enactment next month. In this regard we have accordingly agreed to meet the Minister of Justice early next week. It is our intention to engage the Minister and later President Lungu to discuss specific clauses of interest such as the 50 per cent plus 1 vote, proportional representation for election to Parliament, the running mate clause, the appointment of cabinet outside parliament and the declaration of Zambia as a Christian Country among other critical issues,” said Mr. Mwanzah.
The briefing was attended by PP president Mike Mulongoti, CDP’s Dr. Pule, APC’s Nason Msoni, ZDDM’s Edwin Sakala and National Democratic Party leader Tentani Mwanzah and other party officials.