‘Irresponsible’ statements on referendum worry Copperbelt electoral office

STATEMENTS that the referendum is one way in which the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) wants to rig the August 11 elections are baseless and should not be entertained by any right thinking and patriotic Zambian, says Copperbelt provincial electoral officer Brian Musukuma.

Mr Musukuma said Zambians and the electorate in particular should not allow themselves to be misled by disgruntled elements.

Some opposition leaders like UPND vice-president and running-mate Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM) has been telling the electorate that they should not vote in the referendum because the PF wanted to rig the elections using the same.

But, during a press briefing yesterday, Mr Musukuma said the referendum was all about the Bill of Rights and revoking Article 79 of the Constitution.

“The referendum talks is about the Bill of Rights. So if people vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum it means opening up the Bill of Rights which talks about the rights to good health, employment, shelter and others.

‘‘So people should be educated on the referendum. It is like telling a person that this is a fridge it has soft drinks.

“Do you want the drinks which are inside the fridge or not?

‘‘I think statements that the electorate should not vote in the referendum because it is one way of rigging the elections by the PF are baseless. These are mere campaign gimmicks by some politicians, but I think they should also play a role in educating the people about the referendum,” Mr Musukuma said.

He urged the media and other stakeholders to educate the electorate on the importance of the referendum so that they were not misled by some sections of society.

He said if the electorate were educated and sensitized about the referendum, they would be able to make a right decision on August 11.

“Even with the few days remaining before the elections, you, the media and other stakeholders, you can help to sensitize the people about the referendum.

“Some people think the referendum is a political party and they are saying we will vote for the referendum because it is not violent,” he said.

Mr Musukuma said the preparations for next week’s elections were underway and that he was hopeful that everything would go smoothly.

He said the conflict resolution committee in Kitwe had in the recent past received complaints of pulling down posters and other related cases which were ably handled by the committee.

“Everything is progressing smoothly and I can tell you that everything will go smoothly. We had pockets of violence and pulling down of posters which were resolved smoothly. So there is no need to fear,” he said.