VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka
DIALOGUE Africa director and governance consultant Reuben LifukaÂ has asked the Referendum CommissionÂ to urgently communicate the road map for the referendum process which will clearly indicate the activities thereof.
Mr Lifuka said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the referendum is the last missing piece in concluding what has been a lengthy process of constitutional reforms in the country.
â€œIt is inevitable that the referendum process is well planned for and well managed,â€ Mr Lifuka said.
He said the roadmap will allow citizens to appreciate the magnitude of work that lies ahead and help them identify points in the process where they can actively participate.
Mr Lifuka said the road map, accompanied by a budget, will certainly bring about constructive public debate and engagement.
â€œIt is imperative that a firm date for this important activity is announced, as this will help ordinary citizens, political parties, churches, including non-governmental organisations to start preparing in earnest for the referendum,â€ he said.
Mr Lifuka said there is need for public sensitisation and voter education because majority of voters have never participated in a referendum and can only associate with it through what they read or hear.
He said the last constitutional referendum in Zambia was held on June 17, 1969, and this underscores the importance for the referendum commission and civil society to conduct comprehensive public sensitisation campaigns countrywide.
Mr Lifuka said the success of the referendum will largely depend on a good voter turnout.
â€œPublic sensitisation will require time and significant financial resources, and Government should communicate how ready it is for this process,â€ he said.
Following the presidential assent to the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Bill on February 5th, 2016, there has been heightened public debate on the next steps that will follow in preparation for the proposed referendum on the Bill of Rights and Article 79 of the constitution.
VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka