Government should prioritize the National Referendum to Adopt Bill of Rights-NGOCC

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Mrs Sarah Longwe during the press briefing

The Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating Council (NGOCC) is dismayed and disappointed with President Edgar Lungu’s recent pronouncement in Ethiopia that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government is not in a hurry to facilitate a National Referendum to adopt the new Bill of Rights.

President Lungu and the ruling party should be reminded that the Constitution belongs to the Zambian people and that the role of Government is only to facilitate the process of ensuring that the country has a durable document, embodying the people’s wishes. For many years, Zambians have demanded for the expansion of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, some.of which are fundamental rights of every citizen.

The failure of the August 11 National Referendum was as a result of the arrogance by the Executive to bulldoze the process that was combined with the highly partisan General Elections. As stated earlier, it is high time that the expanded Bill of Rights were included in the Amended Constitution 2016

The expanded Bill of Rights is critical to the well-being of citizens, especially the women and children. Therefore, on behalf of the women of Zarnbia, we appeal to the President to reconsider his position on the matter. A draft Bill of Rights already exists, What needs to be done is only to review some contentious issues and re-submit to the people of Zambia for inclusion in the Amended Constitution.

Further, NGOCC notes the many inconsistencies and contradictions in the 2016 Amended Constitution which were as a result of the rushed manner the document was adopted by parliament. Surely the patriotic Front Party led government needs to realize that there can never be real economic growth and social uplifting of a people if their human rights are treated as a secondary matter. A good constitution is the foundation for sustainable national development. Zambia today faces major governance and socio-economic challenges because of the faulty Constitutional provisions that do not adequately address the aspirations of the Zambian people.

We therefore, demand that the Government must embrace the wishes of the people of Zambia and take on a more consultative process of cleaning up the Amended Constitution of 201,6 and the holding of a National Referendum to adopt the draft Bill of Rights before the 2021 General Elections.

Sara H. longwe
BOARD CHAIRPERSON

6 COMMENTS

  1. +1
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    BA NGOCC, this issue of the Referendum is for NOW a NON STARTER! WHY CAN’T YOU TALK ABOUT STRAIGHTENING THE ECZ so that ELECTIONS CAN BE MORE EFFICIENTLY CONDUCTED TO REDUCE THE TIME IT TAKES TO KNOW RESULTS AND TO CREATE MORE TRANSPARENCY TO AVOID CONFLICTS? Yes, I AGREE with you on the CONSTITUTION, IT SHOULD BE LOOKED AT AGAIN to remove AMBIGUITIES and CONTRADICTIONS – it is a POTENTIAL SOURCE OF CONFLICT!

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    I don’t understand the thinking behind Sarah Longwe to say the least. The current limited Bill of Rights is being violated by Lungu’s govt. So why not insist the current Bill of Rights be enforced and implemented? We all have a Constitutional Right to be heard in Court and yet HH &GBM’s Rights to be heard in Court have been violated as Petitioners. I haven’t heard NGOCC insisting that the Petition should be heard. Policemen are being harassed for marrying foreign women, people are being harassed,maimed ,arrested and killed for belonging to a Party of their choice, people are being denied to wear chitenges of their choice, to read a Newspaper of their choice, people have a Right to work but there are no jobs etc. These are Rights enshrined in the current Bill of Rights and yet these…

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      @Banda, you are so right! Why bother expanding the bill of rights when the current limited one is being ignored? As long as the rule of law is tenuous, is discretionary, it does not matter what laws you have.

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    Sarah Longwe’s logic is twisted. The basic human rights under the current Bill of Rights is not being respected and adhered to by the I?legitimate Lungu Regime. The priority should be to force this illegitimate govt to observe and respect human rights enshrined under the current Bill of Rights.We all have a Right to vote for a candidate of our choice, to belong to a Political Party of our choice,to marry women of our choice, to go to a church of our choice,to be ruled by a Leader of our choice etc. These are fundamental human rights which the illegitimate Lungu govt is violating. Sarah Longwe and NGOCC should first fight for the actualization of these Rights. In particular Sarah Longwe and NGOCC should join hands with HH & GBM to have their Rights to be heard in Court as Petitioners…

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    A few misguided Zambians (Ms Longwe inclusive) belittled importance of opportunity God gave us to claim enhanced human rights which placed greater liability on GRZ to ensure Zambians accessed these rights. All we had to do was say YES we want them. Haters of progress convinced a small tribally inclined group to say NO. Today Ms Longwe says its because President was arrogant she said NO. Sorry Madam, parties & candidates drive policy & that’s why we hold them to campaign promises like BoR. The party you supported said BoR was useless. Don’t twist facts! You realise mistake made but don’t want to take responsibility

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      Until you NGOCC mature to push for matters of national importance like BoR on the basis of principle as opposed to being occupied with fixing someone (the President) because you dislike them you have no capacity to judge the integrity of the President. As a person who was in position of power to facilitate BoR to be given to people he did just that. But what did you do? You told people to say NO because you thought it will choke you if referendum succeeded & is perceived to be his success also. You need to grow up!

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