NGOCC wants unclear Bill of Rights provisions addressed

THE Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is demanding that Government should constitute a small expert team to address some of the unclear provisions in the Bill of Rights.

NGOCC board chairperson Sara Longwe said there was also need for the Government to provide a clear road map for the holding of an all-inclusive national referendum which would not be politicised, coupled with a legal framework to protect the content of the referendum documents.

“The constituted team should also address some of the unclear provisions, especially those negatively affecting women and children such as Articles 24, 26, 29, 31, 35 and 45, among others,” she said.

Ms Longwe said it was incumbent upon Government and the civil society to begin to conscientise members of the public on the provisions of a Referendum Act and the Bill of Rights.

She said NGOCC was deeply saddened by the failure of the National Referendum following the results announced by the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) on the referendum question, as proposed in the National Referendum Act of 2016.

She said it would be vital if the Government ensured that the Bill of Rights was translated into all the seven major local languages, including braille copies to cater for the differently abled persons and these should be distributed to all the ten provinces of Zambia.

Ms Longwe said it was sad that the failure of the national referendum would adversely affect the Zambian people ultimately.

“The results of the national referendum, however, as announced by the ECZ which doubles as the Referendum Commission, do not come as a surprise but rather confirm the fears that NGOCC had about this process.

“As we have stated before, we were not opposed to the holding of the national referendum to expand the Bill of Rights but we were, however, opposed to the holding of the two national processes together as the outcome would be affected by the politicisation of the national referendum,” she said.

Ms Longwe said her organisation had warned the Government that holding the national referendum and the general election together was setting the national referendum for failure because of the highly partisan charged environment of the general elections.

“An important exercise like the national referendum, which is not a partisan issue, should have been held separately, and we hope that the Government has learnt from this process,” she said.