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 2010-11-21 04:31 pm Back to NEWS
‘Constitution before 2011’

Government has announced that there will be a new Constitution before the 2011 general elections.

Vice-President George Kunda has, however, said contentious issues subject to a referendum may not be part of the new Constitution.

He was speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday.

Mr Kunda said the country will substantially have a new Constitution, excluding those provisions which require a referendum.

He announced that Cabinet has decided to publish in the government gazette the Constitution of Zambia Bill 2010 and the Constitution of Zambia Amendment Bill 2010 as required under Article 79 of the Constitution of Zambia.

He said it is the requirement of Article 79(2)(A) of the Constitution of Zambia that a bill for the alteration of the Constitution or the Constitution of Zambia Act should be published in the gazette for at least 30 days before the first reading of the bill in the National Assembly.

Mr Kunda said this means that the enactment process of those provisions of the draft Constitution, which do not require a referendum, has begun.

He said the draft bills will be available at the Government Printing Department starting next week. The draft bills will be presented before the National Assembly for enactment after the expiry of the 30-day period.

Mr Kunda said the draft bills have preserved Part iii (Bill of Rights) and Article 79 itself of the current Constitution because these provisions require a referendum to be changed.

“In other words, these provisions have remained intact as per the current Constitution and have not been tampered with. What we have decided to do is in line with decisions of the NCC and the will of the people of Zambia,” he said.

Mr Kunda said once the bills have been published for 30 days, they will be tabled before Parliament for first reading by February 2011.

And asked whether the referendum will be held before the 2011 general elections, Mr Kunda said Government will have to decide through Cabinet, because there are cost implications.

“Government has not yet reached a decision; we have to present it to Cabinet. We are already spending billions of Kwacha on the census exercise, and we have elections next year, so we really have to reflect upon it as Cabinet and the Zambian people as well,” he said.

The National Constitutional Conference established under the National Constitutional Conference Act number 19 of 2007 concluded its deliberations and rendered its report and draft Constitution to Mr Kunda, who is also Minister of Justice, on August 27, 2010.

At the conclusion of its deliberation, the NCC decided to follow a two-pronged approach which entailed presenting to Parliament a draft for enactment of those provisions of the draft Constitution which did not require a referendum and to submit to a referendum draft bill for any alteration of Part iii and Article 79 of the Constitution and any provisions of the draft Constitution in respect of which there was no agreement or consensus at the conference.

Meanwhile, Mr Kunda has said security agencies have continued to engage neighbouring countries in a bid to maintain law and order.

“We have also continued to engage neighbouring countries through diplomatic channels. I can say here that we enjoy good relations with neighbouring countries,” he said.

Mr Kunda was reacting to reports that Zambians had their houses burnt on land between the Zambian border and Malawi.



 
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