Referendum not possible this year-Nonde


ZAMBIANS should give the Patriotic Front (PF) the opportunity to end the constitution-making process by having non-contentious clauses taken to Parliament so that the new Constitution can be enacted by amendment, former Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) president Joyce Nonde Simukoko has said.

Mrs Simukoko said she was angry that leaders who were in Government not too long ago were now against the cost and time effective phased process of enacting the new Constitution which they supported while in Government.

She said there must be morality in people seeking public office and leaders who were in the Patriotic Front (PF) Government and are now condemning the same decisions they supported while in Government should be watched and rejected by the voters,.

Mrs Simukoko said the constitution-making process had been an emotive and expensive issue which should come to an end.

The former commissioner on the Mung’omba Constitution Review wondered what was wrong with non-contentious clauses being taken to Parliament because the new Constitution would essentially be enacted by Parliament even after the referendum had been held.

She said the constitutional debate in Zambia had been long and costly and that it was important for the current Government to be allowed to finish the process as had been proposed so that the contentious clauses such as 50+1 percent and the running mate clauses could be included in the new Constitution.

Mrs Simukoko said that those demanding that the 50+1 percent and the presidential running mate should be subjected to the referendum should know that Zambians were universally agreed that the clauses could easily be part of the new Constitution through amendments. She warned that the country could easily be thrown into a constitutional crisis if the referendum some civil society organisations and opposition political parties were demanding had the majority NO vote.

“People should read back about the history of the constitution-making process. I was part of the Mung’omba Constitution Review and we had recommended a Constituent Assembly and it failed. We had the National Constitution Conference and it collapsed. When President Michael Sata came, he created the Technical Committee on Drafting the Constitution. What is saddening is that when people are in government, they strongly support certain decisions of Government and immediately they are fired, they begin condemning the same decisions. Zambians much watch such political leaders without morals and reject them during elections,” Mrs Simukoko said.

She said Zambia was on the verge of reaching yet another deadend in the constitution-making process because some leaders who lacked morality were opposed to the proposed phased process of enacting the Constitution.

Mrs Nonde Simukoko said Zambians had not been sensitized about how and why to vote YES and NO and wondered what would happen if the majority of Zambians voted NO in the referendum.

She said it was not feasible for the country to have a new Constitution before next year if the Bill of Rights and the non-contentious issues were going to be subjected to the referendum.

Mrs Simukoko said she did not see anything wrong with Government’s proposal that the referendum should be held simultaneously with the general elections next year because Zambians would be able to vote on the majoritarian electoral rule of 50 percent +1.

She said morality in leadership demanded that when one did not agree with others in Government, they should resign.

“In Zambia, the more leaders lie, the more we love them. I find it strange that leaders who were in this Government not so long ago are strong in criticizing what those in Government are doing,” Mrs Simukoko said.