POLITICAL parties that have ganged up to demand a new Constitution through a referendum should look for the money as Government will not do so before the 2016 general elections, Chief Government spokesperson Chishimba Kambwili has said.
He however said yesterday that Government had intentions of holding a referendum but did not have resources at the moment for such an expensive venture.
Mr. Kambwili observed that the Constitution was not a matter of life and death and that no matter what opposition political parties do, Government’s stance over the issue would remain the same on holding a referendum alongside the general elections next year.
“Government is not against the referendum but there is no money to hold a referendum between now and 2016, and no matter how they push, it is not going to happen. If they want, let them bring money for the referendum so that we do the referendum tomorrow.
“We are not going to be irresponsible as Government to get the money that is for social security, money that is supposed to run the hospitals, as you are aware we already have a deficit of K 2.3 billion and how can a reasonable person who cares about the lives of Zambians be calling for a referendum before 2016? That is being irresponsible! The point is that they have nothing to talk about,” Mr. Kambwili said.
He observed that the same political parties demanding a referendum would be the first ones to claim that Government did not care for its people if there were inefficiencies in other sectors as a result of channeling resources towards the constitution-making process.
“They want us to direct the money for social security to the referendum so that when there are no drugs in hospital, they say Government does not care for its people. Those who want a referendum before 2016 are wasting their time,” he said.
And People’s Party President Mike Mulongoti has asked opposition political parties and the Grand Coalition on the Constitution making process to be realistic and base their arguments over the matter on facts.
Mr. Mulongoti said it was not prudent for a country which was going to the polls next year to call for a referendum which would require colossal amounts of money when the country’s economy was limping.
He told the Daily Nation that it was for that reason that the United Democratic Front had come together to call for a cheaper mode of adopting the new constitution.