Grand Coalition calls for postponement of referendum

The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution has charged that the holding of the referendum alongside the elections is proving more a distraction than an attraction and should be postponed to a later date.
Grand Coalition Chairperson Sara Longwe said in a statement on Tuesday that it was better for Zambia to suspend the referendum and hold it at another time.
She observed that the eminent failure of the referendum is more costly to the nation adding that the partisan trajectory the campaign has taken will result in more spoiled ballots not only for the referendum but also for the general election and will ultimately distort the results for national processes.
‘We would like to believe that using a national referendum is a testimony of the incomprehensive registration of voters in the country because how else does the Electoral Commission of Zambia explain the failure to capture the number of voters who are expected to vote with a registration card only, in order to make up the threshold required by Article 79 of the constitution,’ Longwe observed.
Longwe said previous constitutions and constitutionalism has failed in Zambia because people it is supposed to regulate and provide remedy in case of human right violations are not aware and therefore do not understand the human rights provisions contained therein resulting in a Bill of Rights that is only on paper .
‘We then therefore strongly urge the political powers that made the decision to hold the referendum alongside the elections to rescind the decision in the national interest and let us postpone the referendum to a more conducive time when the people of Zambia can wholly focus and exercise that sovereign authority which is constitutionally guaranteed to us,’ Longwe said.
She stressed that a standalone referendum outside a partisan charged atmosphere will render more legitimacy to the exercise than what will take place on Thursday which she said is only being done for expediency than any serious intention to enhance the rights of Zambians.
Longwe said the adoption of a new Bill of Rights was a more important undertaking than the mere election of persons into political offices.
She noted that a referendum called to change and adopt many provisions such as the adoption of the Bill of Rights should be handled differently from a one issue referendum question and should have national consensus.
‘Our assessment is that there is no consensus or even any attempt to build consensus and the current division of the ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ campaigners is totally misplaced for the adoption of a whole Bill of Rights.

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