YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
THE Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) has backed Governmentâ€™s recommendation to enact the new constitution in phases by first taking non-contentious clauses to Parliament.
And EFZ executive director Pukuta Mwanza said it is impractical now for the country to hold a national referendum on the constitution due to limited resources.
Reverend Mwanza said the church mother body supports the partial amendment to the constitution as long as the final result can guarantee the will of the majority of the people.
He said this in a letter dated May 18, 2015 addressed to Minister of Justice Ngosa Simbyakula and made available to the Daily Mail.
â€œWe support the proposed piecemeal approach to enacting the constitution provided we get the expected results in having the constitution that the Zambian people have always wanted,â€ the letter reads in part.
Rev Mwanza said Government should ensure the wishes of the people who submitted in favour of popular articles are respected.
He cited some of the clauses as the appointment of a cabinet outside of parliament, 50-percent-plus-one threshold for a winning presidential candidate in an election and the date of the presidential elections being enshrined in the constitution as opposed to making it a preserve of the sitting President.
He added that the right to life, the presidential running mate, heterosexual marriage and relationship and the continued upholding of the declaration of Zambia as a Christian nation, among others, should be included in the partial adoption of the constitution.
And Rev Mwanza said the country does not have time and resources to hold a referendum.
â€œAlthough we stood firmly for the referendum in the past, this is impracticable at the moment considering the limited time available for all the processes.
â€œWe also bear in mind that the Referendum Act needs to be amended. In this regard, we do not see the possibility of accomplishing these major activities and proceeding to 2016 with a new constitution enacted via a referendum,â€ he said.
Rev Mwanza, however, proposed that the Bill of Rights be taken for a referendum, which should be conducted simultaneously with the tripartite elections in 2016.
He urged Government to continue to dialogue and engage with various stakeholders on the constitution and ensure the process is concluded soon.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka