THE Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) has warned against any attempts to force Government to hold an immediate stand-alone referendum as such a move will have adverse effects on the treasury and the economy.
PMRC executive director Bernadette Deka said the post referendum period must be used for reflection on the lessons that had been learnt from the referendum process but continue with the current Bill of Rights until such a time when the it would be deemed fit to be voted for because holding a referendum was as costly as holding a general election.
Ms. Deka said the country should now focus on its objective of working towards attaining the middle income status by 2030 by directing its energies to key sectors that would enhance development. She said that diversification from mining to agriculture remained one of the critical aspects Government should focus on.
“The referendum did not meet the 50% voter threshold and as such was unsuccessful. In view of this reality, Zambia shall continue being guided by the current (unexpanded) Bill of Rights until such a time when the expanded Bill of Rights shall be voted for. PMRC realises that the referendum is a costly exercise as it is also a national election and any immediate attempts to hold another similar exercise would have an adverse impact on the treasury and economy.
“PMRC believes that the country should now focus on attaining its aspirations of development that lead towards the year 2030 where Zambia is targeting to be a ‘developed middle income nation.’ The focus for the country, therefore, is to continue working towards key sectors that will enhance our development. Diversification from mining to agriculture remains one of the critical aspects Government should focus on. Zambia should still focus on being the “food basket of Southern Africa in the mid-term,” Ms. Deka said.
She also said there was need for Government to expedite industrialisation by partnering with the private sector, adding that there was need for the country to invest in renewable energy because Zambia was endowed with massive potential to develop the energy sector.
“Another aspect is to ensure coordination of the various development vehicles that exist in form of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), The Public Private Partnership (PPP) Council and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) in order to expedite and realise the industrialisation agenda for Zambia. Further, Government must focus on ensuring that Zambia attains a status of having a rich energy mix in the coming few years. Various researchers, including PMRC research has revealed the enormous potential that the country has for development of renewable energy.
“Some areas in the northern part of Zambia still remain very ideal for construction of hydro power plants and modalities must begin to be put in pace. In view of this, PMRC calls on Government to focus on delivering development as the country moves towards the 2030 agenda of being a developed middle income nation,” she said.