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Lungu rules out referendum

PRESIDENT Lungu says Government is not ready to hold another national referendum to amend the Constitution to enhance the Bill of Rights because it is too costly.
And President Lungu says he painstakingly undertakes foreign trips because there is always a backlog of work to be done back home.
Speaking when he met Zambians resident in Ethiopia on Sunday night, President Lungu said Zambia cannot afford to have another referendum whose cost is equal to that of an election because the country has had five elections within a period of 10 years.
“I am not ready to hold another election within five years because it is too costly,” President Lungu said.
The 2016 national referendum failed because the total number of votes cast failed to reach the 50 percent threshold of persons entitled to vote in the referendum.
A total of 3, 345, 471 votes were cast in the 2016 national referendum held alongside the general elections on August 11, of which 1,852,559 voted “yes” while the “no” vote had 753,549.
The total number of persons who were entitled to vote in the referendum was 7,528,091 and the 50 percent threshold of persons entitled to vote was 3,764,091.
The 2016 national referendum question was: “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?”
And President Lungu, who is attending the 28th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), said foreign travel is undertaken in the prime interest of the nation.
“Zambia comes first and every trip I undertake comes in the interest of Zambians. I travel with great pain because there are a lot of things to be done back at home. Travelling is tiresome but I am compelled because there are certain duties that cannot be delegated.
“Addis Ababa is a central place where various leaders and organisations converge and it is less costly to meet them here and discuss matters in the interest of our country, it’s unlike travelling to their individual countries,” he said.
Others present at the meeting were former President Rupiah Banda, who was invited as chief guest to officiate the launch and rebranding of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Trade and Development Bank (TDB), Minister of Youth, Sport and Child Development Moses Mawere, Minister of Justice Given Lubinda and his Gender counterpart Victoria Kalima.
President Lungu also reiterated his call for patience among Zambians during the period over which austerity measures such as the removal of consumption subsidies will be implemented.

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