Referendum set for 2016


GOVERNMENT has decided that a referendum on the Bill of Rights will be held at the same time as General Elections in 2016 while non-contentious clauses in the current Constitution would be subjected to amendments in Parliament.

And Government has set up parameters for the negotiations of improved salaries and conditions of service following the lifting of the wage freeze by President Edgar Lungu during the Labour Day celebrations two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Cabinet has recommended the appointment of Class ‘A’ board members of the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) that is expected to provide guidance on matters of policy and the general administration of the bank that has over the years drawn a lot of interest among Zambians following the loan debacle by the defunct Zambian Airways.

This was announced by Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula at a media briefing at State House yesterday after a historic two-day Cabinet meeting which started on Monday.

Dr Simbyakula said Government deliberated 14 items on its agenda among which was the approval of the recommendation to commence the enactment of the new and people-driven Constitution by Parliament in a phased manner.

Dr Simbyakula, who is acting Chief Government spokesperson, said Cabinet had approved recommendations to appoint members of the Electoral Commission (ECZ) as members of the Referendum Commission to prepare for the referendum next year.

He said Cabinet in its two-day meeting recommended that non-contentious clauses would  be taken to Parliament.

“Cabinet has approved the recommendation by the Minister of Justice to commence the enactment of the new Constitution by Parliament in a phased manner by taking to Parliament non-contentious clauses and subjecting the Bill of Rights and contentious clauses to a referendum to be held simultaneously with the 2016 general elections. Cabinet also approved the recommendation to appoint members of the Electoral Commission of Zambia as members of the Referendum Commission to prepare for the referendum,” Dr Simbyakula said.

Dr Simbyakula, who was flanked by special assistant to the President for press and public relations Amos Chanda, said Cabinet had also approved the delimitation of six  new constituencies after the recommendation by the ECZ following the creation of new districts.

The new constituencies included Chirundu in Lusaka Province, Sioma and Nkeyema in Western Province, Chemba and Ngabwe in Central Province and Sinda in Eastern Province.

Dr Simbyakula however said there shall be no by-elections in the new Constituencies until the general elections next year and the measure had been taken to enable ECZ to register voters when the commission commences the registration of voters in August this year.

Government has equally introduced a transport management system in the public service aimed at reducing the cost of running the huge Government fleet which would see Government save about K10 billion annually in managing transport in the three arms of Government as well as quasi-government institutions.

Dr Simbyakula stated that Cabinet had approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Financial Intelligence Centre Act No 46 of 2010 which was aimed to provide for the operations and functions of the Financial Intelligence Centre.

In line with the Eastern and South Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (EASAMLG), Dr Simbyakula disclosed that a Financial Intelligence Centre amendment Bill was meant to effectively supervise and monitor the implementation of activities aimed at combating money laundering and terrorist financing and other serious crimes in the country.

He said it had been approved that Government should undertake the Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism National Risk Assessment which he explained was going to help to identify, understand and assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks the country was facing.

Dr Simbyakula said Government had also approved the introduction of a Bill in Parliament to amend the Accountants Act to enhance professionalism apart from approving the recommendation to amend the Customs and Excise law which would see the extension of hours of operations from 12:00 hours to 24:00 hours at Kasumbalesa, Chembe and Mukambo borders.

Government has also approved the recommendation to grant alternative status to the remaining Rwandan refugees after the invocation of the ceased circumstances cessation clause.

Dr Simbyakula announced that Government had approved measures to address the financing gap in the execution of the 2015 national Budget which had included among other things the external and internal borrowing as well as rationalization of expenditures and the use of alternative financing mechanisms for infrastructure development.

He also announced that the Professional Secretaries Association of Zambia (PSAZ) would be turned into a statutory body to enhance professionalism and integrity in the secretarial staff in both the public and private sector.

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