Zambian Govt proposes selective constitution amendment


Government has proposed to amend the current constitution to include non contentious clauses such as the presidential running mate and the 50% plus one vote ahead of the 2016 tripartite election.

Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula has told parliament in a ministerial statement that if stakeholders are agreeable to the government proposal, the first set of amendments could be taken to Parliament in the June 2015 sitting.

Dr Simbyakula says the danger of subjecting the whole final draft constitution to a referendum is that even the good, progressive and non contentious clauses will have been lost in the event the referendum fails to meet the required threshold of voter turnout.

Dr Simbyakula says it is because of the attendant and real risks associated with a referendum that government finds it realistic and financially prudent to have non contentious provisions in the draft constitution which do not require a referendum to be incorporated in the constitution by Parliament amending the current constitution at no cost.

He says the Bill of Rights and Article 79 could then be subjected to a referendum held together with the 2016 tripartite elections.

Dr Simbyakula explains that this way the probability of meeting the threshold would be much higher than a standalone referendum, adding that there will be no extra resources required as the tripartite elections would have been budgeted for.

He adds that government remains open to dialogue on the constitution making process.