The Grand Coalition on the campaign for a new people driven constitution has called for a general assembly for all its members to devise a programme of action in response to government’s non-responsive position over the constitution making process.
Grand Coalition spokesperson McDonald Chipenzi said the government had showed lack of seriousness on delivering the new constitution hence the need to convene a meeting to determine what direction the constitution fight should take.
Mr Chipenzi said efforts to engage government in any form of progressive dialogue had completely broken down hence the need to chart new and more formidable plans of action to exert more pressure.
“Government has been offering lip service commitment to giving the people their constitution but their public and secret actions are speaking to the contrary. Now that it is clear that the political will is not there the coalition is of the firm belief that political pressure is the only answer,” Mr Chipenzi said.
He said the general assembly scheduled for Saturday August 30 at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre would formulate a manual guiding all member organisations on the course of action in the constitution making process.
And Mr Chipenzi has criticized government on the way it has managed President Michael Sata’s disappearance from the public.
Mr Chipenzi, who is also FODEP executive director said President Sata’s continued absence from public domain was political and economic sabotage as no investor would have the confidence to put money in a country with a non-visible Head of State.
“The President is a servant of the people and he should be accountable to them whenever he is absent from work otherwise he risks being declared absent without official leave (AWOL). It is the first time in Zambia’s 50 years of independence that an elected President decided to abandon the flock without any explanation,” he said.
Mr Chipenzi however wondered how long Mr Sata would stay away from the people especially that Parliament would soon be opening and was expected to preside at the occasion.
And the Grand Coalition says suggestions to hold the referendum together with the 2016 general elections was impossible because of the huge demand required in hosting the two events.
Mr Chipenzi said there was no need to host the events in a contest as it would be too difficult to manage because there was still time enough to hold a referendum before the 2016 election.
“It is not possible to have a referendum and general election at the same time, because firstly we all see the delays which take place in announcing election results. And we vote for 3 offices at that occasion President, Member of Parliament and councilors, you can just imagine the bulk of work,” he said.
Mr Chipenzi said suggestions proposing the holding of a referendum at the same time as a general election would be too much pressure for the country, and not viable for success.
But the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe has insisted the proposals to hold the two events at the same time should encourage participation while allowing time for sensitization for the people.
Mr Ntewewe said for a successful referendum, the electorates should be well sensitized and that political players could play a vital role in marketing the need for an effective process.
“The last time a referendum was held in Zambia was in 1972, and most of the voters today did not take part and have no idea what goes on during such an occasion, and for success, the constitution demands that 50 percent of eligible voters must participate.
We have seen a trend of as little as 30 percent voter turnout at elections with the recent Mangango by-elections and this calls for more awareness strategies but that would be an uphill battle if before the next general elections,” he said.