TRANSPARENCY International Zambia (TIZ)’s concerns over the need for politicians to sensitise the electorate and the general public on the importance of the Referendum as opposed to discouraging them is spot-on.
It is really worrying when people decide to derail something that is important for the nation and its citizens just because they are supporting the other person and not the one in the driving seat.
People need to understand that from the time Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula announced that the country would have a Referendum alongside the general elections, the most important thing was to sensitise the electorate on what a Referendum is and what it means to the people of Zambia.
People need to understand what they will be voting for and what the question is. The referendum, as announced, come rain or sunshine, will be held alongside the August presidential and general elections.
It is important to debate such issues but like somebody said, debate is a healthy occurrence when there is some relevance to it. Let us not shoot down issues that matter to the Zambian citizen for the sake of debating.
As TIZ president Lee Haabasonda said during the stakeholders’ sensitisation meeting in Kabwe on Monday, it is indeed sad that instead of campaigning for the Referendum, some politicians are busy de-campaigning the exercise.
It is unfortunate that politicians are not taking time to explain the importance of voting for the Referendum to the electorate.
According to the Constitution of Zambia, any alterations in the Bill of Rights and Article 79 require that a Referendum be held where citizens are expected to either accept or reject the question relating to the Bill of Rights and Article 79.
The Bill of Rights is contained in part three of the Constitution of Zambia.
During the Referendum, the question is: Do you agree to the amendment to the Constitution to enhance the Bill of Rights contained in Part III of the Constitution of Zambia and to repeal and replace Article 79 of the Constitution of Zambia?
The answer to the question as indicated already should be Yes or No. This is what the electorate need to be taught about because if they remained blank about the whole issue, come August 11, the unimaginable would happen.
Sensitising the eligible voters on pushing for a postponement is a waste of time because participating in the Referendum is the Constitutional right for every citizen who would cast their vote on August 11.
Since the Referendum is about altering a Bill that protects and guarantees people’s rights, in this case the Bill of Rights, it is vital that people understand it in its entirety. That is why, instead of crying over self-contradicting spilt milk, politicians should just own up and start sensitising the voters.
It is a shame that it is mostly the same people who had earlier made noise about the need to hold a Referendum who are against the exercise. Now that it has been granted, the noise is shifting to ‘killing it even before it grows’.
Let us support the process by enlightening the people we claim to be representing because without giving light and direction on the matter, our people will find it hard to believe us.