The Young African Leaders Initiative YALI President Andrew Ntewewe says there is need to amend Article 79 of the Constitution as it has proved to be problematic.
He said the Article does not give power to the people to decide on contentious issues when taken to a referendum as parliament still has to decide in the end.
“As YALI what we are advocating for is that we should have an amendment of Article 79. Article 79 is a law which has been problematic in the sense that it does not give power to the people when it comes to a referendum. If you recall one of the key things that YALI had talked about before the Constitution was amended was the fact that it was not good for us to go to a referendum but even after we go to a referendum the document goes back to parliament so our debate or advocacy right now is that let us amend Article 79 so that once the people have spoken it does not go to parliament, it goes straight to the President for assenting,” he said.
Mr Ntewewe also said there is need for people to agree on the contents which will be taken to a referendum so as to avoid what has happened in the recent past where people have disowned the amended Constitution after the President signed the document.
“From the YALI point of view we have said that we need to have the Bill of Rights taken through a validation process. We don’t want a situation like what has happened with the amended Constitution were after it has been amended people begin to raise issues.
“We think that it would be prudent for government to proceed with a validation process of the contents in the Bill of Rights. We understand that there are issues with the Bill of Rights they could lobby for adequate consensus, for example, there is the issue on how to define life at conception and the issue of abortion, also an issue of ownership of land which the chiefs has had challenges with that has to be dealt with and the death penalty among other issues so our thinking is that government will provide a platform so that certain names will be able to look at these issues before the referendum.”
On the political violence that has continued to rock the country despite many stakeholders condemning it Mr Ntewewe said political leaders should do more than just issue statements in the immediate.
He said the leaders must be seen to be acting rather than just talking as doing so will send a strong message to would be offenders.
He said there are suppose to be suspensions and dismissals of officials within the party ranks so that people can see that indeed leaders are acting to eliminate the scourge.
He challenged Republican President Edgar Lungu and his opposition counter party from the UPND Hakainde Hichilema to act decisively when dealing with party members perpetrating violence as not doing so is likely to cost them during the elections just like it happened to the former ruling party the MMD.
Mr Ntewewe said this when he featured on Joy FM live radio program on Thursday.