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