Constitution delegates want referendum

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Delegates attending the Lusaka Province constitution consultative forum have began proposing that Zambia’s next constitution, which is still at a consultative level, should be adopted by a referendum.

Chieftainess Nkomesha Mukamambo II of the Soli people of Chongwe district opened the discussion on the topic when she rose to affirm that a referendum should be a must if the next constitution is to stand the test of time.

Speaking at the ongoing Lusaka province constitution convention few hours after the official opening on Monday, Chieftainess Nkomesha said the current constitution making process, like many others, would be of no value to Zambians if it was not subjected to the referendum.

She noted that Zambians were required to speak for themselves through a referendum as to whether they wanted the current constitution or not.

The Lusaka provincial constitution convention is part of the third and last round of constitution conventions currently taking place in three provinces which include Southern and Eastern.

“The referendum is a must. Experience is the best teacher. We have had so many constitution making processes but they have not yielded anything so this current process is the only hope for the Zambian people,” Chieftainess Nkomesha said.

She said it was good that this time around, there was no government white paper which required the constitution committee to handover the draft constitution to the President for him to make changes before presenting it to the people.

Chieftainess Nkomeshya said the people of Zambia had declined the government white paper in preference for a referendum as the only way forward.

“We must set a precedent and ensure that we contribute to a constitution that will stand the test of time,” the traditional leader emphasised.

Earlier, Women for Change Executive Director Emily Sikazwe, who is the elected deputy chairperson of the Lusaka constitution, said the contents of the draft constitution must be protected.

Dr. Sikazwe said the contents must be protected although she was not sure whether the holding of referendum was possible.

She appealed to delegates to give Zambian people the constitution they deserve and leave a legacy for the country.

Meanwhile, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection executive director Leonard Chiti was elected chairperson of the Lusaka province constitution convention and would be deputised by Emily Sikazwe.

In his inaugural speech, Father Chiti urged the delegates to do their best and ensure a good constitution was produced because a lot of resources had been put in place for Zambians to have a good constitution.