Opposition blamed for ‘lost opportunity’


THE Democratic Governance and Human Rights Advocates (DEGHA) has chastised the opposition political parties for campaigning against the referendum, saying they do not respect the rights of the Zambian people.

In a statement yesterday, DEGHA president Gerald Mutelo said that past governments had failed to hold a referendum on the Bill of Rights and that when President-elect Edgar Lungu fulfilled this task the opposition campaigned against the process.

Mr Mutelo said that it was disappointing that the opposition political parties had campaigned against the referendum process, stating that it was proof that they did not care or respect the rights of citizens.

He said that this was a lost opportunity by the nation, wondering how a country would develop if it did not have sufficient rights for its citizens.

“It is  disappointing  that  some  political  parties  had politicised the referendum  by  campaigning against it and now that  it has failed we congratulate them  because Zambians  know that they  do not  respect   the  rights of the  Zambian people.

‘‘This  is very bad, we  have lost  an  opportunity  as a nation  to  have civil and political rights, economic, social, cultural  and  environmental  rights, solidarity   rights. At global level there are three types of human rights as mentioned above. In Zambia we only have the civil and political rights.

‘‘How can the nation develop when rights of its people are not enshrined in the Constitution?’’ he wondered.

He said Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s), trade unions and the church had advocated for the inclusion of economic, social and environmental and cultural rights among other progressive clauses.

Mr Mutelo said that if the Bill of Rights had succeeded it would have been part of the 2016 amended Constitution but that now the 1996 amended Constitution on the Bill of Rights would continue.