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US envoy supports tabling non-contentious clauses

TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
UNITED States (US) Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz says there is nothing wrong with Government tabling in Parliament non-contentious clauses of the draft constitution for possible enactment.
Mr Schultz said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that stakeholders should accommodate the government’s decision to take the non-contentious proposals to Parliament for amendment because some are people’s proposals.
“The issue of amending the constitution through a referendum is very important but people should understand that it will be very costly to hold a referendum, especially that Zambia will be holding the 2016 general elections.
“We have indicated that there is nothing wrong for the government to take the non-contentious issues in the constitution to Parliament for amendment and that people can wait for the contentious issues to be amended through a referendum after the general elections,” he said.
The envoy said people should be realistic about the constitution-making process and that the debate should now be centred more on recourses.
Mr Schultz said Zambia has missed several opportunities of getting a new constitution that can stand the test of time and that time to achieve consensus is now.
He said Government’s plan shows good political will which stakeholders should embrace.
Mr Shultz also said he supports the proposal by the government to include only non-contentious clauses such as the presidential running mate and the 50 percent plus one vote threshold for the winning presidential candidate ahead of the 2016 tripartite elections.
Meanwhile, Mr Schultz has urged Government to come up with effective interventions to stop the illegal trade and poaching of animals in Zambia.
Mr Schultz said wildlife trafficking has continued to threaten the survival of iconic species such as rhinos and elephants, the security of the nation, economic development and environmental health.
He said this in Lusaka yesterday during a discussion programme on wildlife conservation in Zambia and the role the tourism sector plays in promoting economic development of the country.
“Poaching has continued to be an issue in Zambia and it is sad that Zambia has become the worst hit country in the southern Africa region. Government should, therefore, come up with effective interventions that will stop the illegal trade and poaching of wildlife in the country,” Mr Schultz observed.
He also said Government should not limit the fight of illegal wildlife trade to rhinos and elephants because Zambia is losing a number of other valuable wildlife resources which when protected can contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
Mr Schultz reaffirmed his Government’s commitment to helping the Zambian government in preventing poaching and the illegal trafficking of wildlife in Africa.
And US Fish and Wildlife Services programme officer for African elephant and rhino programmes Michelle Gadd said poaching and the illegal trade in wildlife are cross-border problem that needs concerted efforts from all countries affected.
Ms Gadd, however, said she is happy that Zambia has already taken measures to curb the illegal trade as demonstrated by the review of the Zambia Wildlife Act and the Tourism Policy both aimed at strengthening the legal frame work.
She also urged the Zambian government to welcome international efforts to trace the sources of illegal wildlife such as the technology of carbon dating rhino horns that enables authorities to determine exactly which countries the animals came from.




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