Lungu assures Zambians over Constitution

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has warned that there is a real danger of the country failing yet again to have a new and people-driven Constitution and lose the progressive non-contentious provisions in the Draft Constitution if the entire document is going to be subjected to referendum.

And President Lungu has condemned the politics of hatred, bitterness, contempt and envy and has appealed to political leaders to cultivate the culture of conducting issue-based politics as opposed to politics of character assassination, insults and tribalism.

Making his inaugural speech to the 5th Session of the 11th National Assembly yesterday, President Lungu said Government was committed to delivering a people-driven Constitution and that was why the final draft was released to the general public last year to enable them study and make comments.

The President said Government had since published the Constitution Amendment Bill containing non-contentious clauses and that the Bill was scheduled for presentation to Parliament during the current session.

The President has urged all Zambians to take keen interest in the Bill and engage their members of Parliament to ensure that their views were well-represented and taken into account during the debate of the Bill.

He said that Government had since amended the Referendum Bill in anticipation of the national referendum proposed to be held alongside the 2016 general elections to demonstrate its seriousness and commitment to delivering the new and people-driven Constitution.

The Head of State stated that the amending of the referendum Bill was an express mandate to the electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) to be the Referendum Commission which was going to institutionalize the conduct of the referenda.

“The decision to present the non-contentious clauses for enactment by Parliament is informed by the real danger of losing even the progressive and non-contentious provisions of the Draft Constitution if the entire document was subjected to a referendum. It is necessary to hold a referendum alongside next year’s general elections as a way of enhancing the chances of the referendum being successful and to ensure a cost-effective process,” President Lungu said.

And the Head of State has urged Zambians to reject politics of character assassination and the culture of insults, tribalism and regionalism which he said had crept in the country’s politics.

President Lungu described politics of hatred, envy, tribalism and regionalism as unchristian and unZambian stating that Zambians should stop the vices so that they could concern with themselves with real issues that he said were affecting a greater majority of Zambians.

He said political leaders had a duty to rapidly transform Zambia into a thriving society that would give hope to all Zambians with the desire to expand their business, education, training  and employment opportunities.

“A fair, just and humane society is possible. We are an inspiration nation that has risen above major challenges in the past. We have to work towards building a fair society united in commerce, a Zambia that will offer rendervous of opportunities to all,” President Lungu said.

Meanwhile President Lungu said in the promotion of good governance, his Government would remain committed to the fight against corruption declaring that he was not ready to protect those serving in public offices if they would be found wanting in his anti-corruption  crusade.

President Lungu said in the spirit of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights, he had directed the Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs to come up with a bill that would see the amendment of the Public Order Act (POA).