Referendum Bill goes to Parley

GOVERNMENT has proposed the amendment of the Referendum Act to correct the inconsistency between the Constitution and the Act which are conflicted in the criterion and eligibility for persons to vote in a national referendum.

The current Referendum Act is not in conformity with the Constitution of Zambia in so far as the eligibility and criterion for voting in a national referendum is concerned and Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula said Cabinet had approved the introduction of the Referendum Amendment Bill.

During the 10th Cabinet (special) meeting at State House yesterday, it was realised that whereas the Constitution required 50 percent of all persons entitled to be registered as voters to vote in a referendum, the Referendum Act provided for persons registered as voters to vote in a referendum.

Dr Simbyakula, who is acting Chief Government spokesperson, told a media briefing after the Cabinet meeting that the inconsistency between the Constitution and the Referendum Act rendered section 3 (1) of the Referendum Act void and it was therefore important to have it amended.

He said Cabinet had also approved the introduction to Parliament of  a bill to amend the Constitution  to increase the number of elected members of the National Assembly to 156 from the current 150. This Bill, Dr Simbyakula said had been necessitated by the increase in the number of districts which had resulted into some of the Constituencies belonging to more than one district.

Dr Simbyakula said Cabinet has also approved the revised National Disaster Management Policy which would see a paradigm shift from a reactive approach to disaster management to the emerging pro-active of disaster risk reduction as well as climate change issues. In the financial and monetary affairs, Government has approved the contraction of a K175,310 million Asset Lease Facility from Stanbic Bank Zambia Limited for the purchase of motor vehicles and other requisite equipment for Government institutions in order to ease transportation and logistical challenges.

Dr Simbayakula said Cabinet approved the contraction of a US$22,487,000 from the African Development Bank to support the implementation of the Lake Tanganyika Development Project.

The Lake Tanganyika Development Project is aimed at protecting the ecological integrity of the Lake Tanganyika basin as well as improve in the basin population.

He said Government has proposed the raising of the minimum paid up share capital by issuing a Statutory Instrument to have the capital for insurance entities so that the companies could have adequate capital assets.

“In its quest to reduce Government expenditure on residential VIP furniture, Cabinet yesterday approved the introduction of a furniture loan scheme in order to reduce Government expenditure on the procurement of VIP furniture. The National Youth Policy has been approved in order to bring it in line with the African Youth Charter and other international statutes as well as new developments in the political, economic, technological and social environment,” Dr Simbyakula said. He said the National Youth Policy had placed emphasis on the need for youth programming to address the transition from adolescence to youth-hood as well as exit strategies that would prepare the youths to be self-reliant.

Dr Simbyakula said Government has proposed the revision of the definition of a youth as a person of between the age of 18 to 35 years to between 15 to 35 years  apart from approving the Action Plan for the Youth Empowerment and Employment.


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