The Grand Coalition on the Campaign for a People Driven Constitution in Zambia commends Members of Parliament for their reservations to unnecessary amendments to the Referendum Act.
Coalition vice-chairperson Sara Longwe says on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, the Grand Coalition followed with keen interest the debate in the National Assembly of the Referendum Amendment Bill N.A.B No. 5 of 2015 that was presented by the Minister of Justice, Hon. Ngosa Simbyakula for the second reading. We were pleased to hear Hon. Jack Mwiimbu, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Legal Affairs, Governance, Human Rights, Gender Matters and Child Affairs, read his report that the Members of his Committee have rejected the government’s move to force piecemeal constitutional amendments on the people of Zambia and to raise the vote threshold for adoption of a new constitution through a referendum, which is contrary to what is provided for in the current Referendum Act.
‘This is what Honourable Members of Parliament ought to do, speaking for and on behalf of the people who elected them, and not sacrificing the people’s interests for selfish political scores. We commend the MPs for being the voice of the voiceless,’ Longwe said.
The Parliamentary Committee’s Report clearly vindicated the Grand Coalition’s position that there is no conflict between the current Referendum Act and the Constitution provisions on the national referendum. The Government indicates that there exists a conflict therefore the amendment will harmonise the laws. What pertains to Article 79 is the amendment of the Bill of Rights and not the rest of the Constitution or adoption of a new constitution.
A failed referendum is a waste of public resources. The Grand Coalition is tempted to believe that some of these proposed amendments are part of the government’s well calculated delaying tactics in order to deny the people their birth-right. We therefore encourage Members of Parliament to reject the Referendum Amendment Bill N.A.B No. 5 of 2015.
The Grand Coalition is also pleased to see that the debate in the National Assembly has to a large extent captured the submissions made by different stakeholders, including the Grand Coalition. The Grand Coalition commends MPs for speaking for the people and we encourage them to continue speaking for the downtrodden.