THE Referendum to amend the Bill of Rights is not a partisan or Government issue but aimed at enhancing people’s rights, says United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Janet Rogan.
She said this yesterday during the launch of the Zambia UN Youth Partnership platform.
Ms Rogan said the proposed new Bill of Rights was a significant improvement in many areas over the existing Bill of Rights in Part III of the Constitution.
She urged the majority eligible voters and those who possessed a green national registration card (NRC) to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum for improved protection of human rights.
“The proposed new Bill of Rights has a significant improvement in many areas over the existing Bill of Rights in Part III of the Constitution. “The referendum to amend the Bill of Rights is not about one or other political party or Government. A Bill of Rights is about the people,” she said.
Ms Rogan encouraged citizens, particularly women, to participate in the debates as well as vote in the August 11 general elections because the Bill of Rights contained a significant potential improvement in rights for women’s equality and equity in all areas. “The proposed new Bill of Rights contains very significant potential improvements in rights for women’s equality and equity in all areas.
“For the referendum to be valid, at least 50% of those eligible to vote in a referendum must cast a vote. To be eligible to vote in a referendum in Zambia, one must have reached the age of 18 and carry a green national registration card,” she said.
Ms Rogan said the protection of rights, civic engagement and political inclusion was one of the four key areas of the UN System-wide Action Plan on Youth (SWAP) in Zambia whose focus was on employment, entrepreneurship, education as well as a comprehensive sexuality education and health. She challenged the youths to be advocates of positive change by desisting to involve themselves in acts of political violence but harness their ideas and action to finding solutions to some of the problems the country was facing such as adverse effects of climate change.
“No young person should break the head of another in the name of elections. No female voter should be driven away from debates or voting because the electoral environment has become aggressive and unsafe.
“Civil and political rights are precious: the right to participate freely in elections belongs to us all and should not be damaged by a dangerous minority,” she said.