‘CSO undertaking referendum census’

PARLIAMENT heard yesterday that the Central Statistical Office (CSO) is undertaking a sample census to prepare for the holding of a referendum.
Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Chungu Bwalya said this is in preparation to the holding of a referendum during this year’s general elections.
“Government has engaged the Central Statistical Office to determine whether the 2010 census can be reviewed and used to determine the number of eligible citizens to participate in the referendum,” Mr Bwalya said.
He was responding to a question by Kalabo Central member of Parliament Chinga Miyutu (UPND) who wanted to know the progress made on the holding of the referendum, to amend the bill of rights, simultaneously with the general elections on August 11 this year.
Mr Miyutu also wanted to know whether the public has been educated on the referendum, considering that such an exercise has not been held in Zambia in a long time.
Mr Bwalya explained that some money has been set aside for the referendum.
“The Electoral Commission of Zambia is still looking at many options on how the referendum can be handled,” Mr Bwalya said.
Mr Bwalya also urged people to read and study the bill of rights before voting so that they can understand its contents.
He said ECZ has set aside funds for sensitisation on the referendum, which will commence when everything has been reviewed.
Meanwhile, Vice-President Inonge Wina explained that not being a registered voter will not disqualify people from taking part in the referendum.
She said ECZ is still working on modalities on how the referendum will be implemented.
She said ECZ is engaging stakeholders to see how best the process can be carried out.
“The only qualification in the referendum is the green national registration card because some religions do not participate in elections,” Mrs Wina said.
The Vice-President said ECZ will simultaneously carry out a voter education exercise with sensitisation on the importance of voting in the referendum.
Meanwhile, Mrs Wina warned members of the opposition to be careful with the manner that they pose questions in the House because some attract negative action.
She said this after Namwala MP Moono Lubezhi (UPND) accused the Patriotic Front of not being transparent in communicating issues regarding the referendum.
Mrs Wina said if the PF was not transparent, it could have manipulated the constitution (amendment) bill which President Lungu has since assented to.
“The issue of rigging elections seems to have caught up with the UPND because everyone is saying the PF is winning the August 11 elections,” she said.

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