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PAOG urges President Sata to appoint referendum

church

The Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAOG) has called on the President Michael Sata to quickly appoint a referendum commission and an initiative bill to amend the current referendum act so that it responds to the current democratic dispensation.

Speaking at a press briefing in Lusaka this morning, PAOG Chief Bishop Harrison Sakala said it was important for the country to have a relevant piece of legislation which should guide and protect the constitution making process.

He said without the legal backing, any unsatisfied citizen can legally challenge the whole process in the courts of law.

Bishop Sakala said it was encouraging that the draft constitution will be subjected to a referendum but noted that currently, it was unclear on what the key questions for the referendum on the draft constitution will be and whether the voters will be asked to vote on the constitution in its entirety.

However, Bishop Sakala said the submissions to the draft constitution which are to be made by the international community may negatively influence the final constitution.

He said according to the current guidelines, the technical committee on the draft constitution will have to consider submissions by international experts.

The clergyman wondered whether it was necessary to involve the international community when the committee had enough experts to advise on the process.

Bishop Sakala said the church was concerned that the international community may be trying to sneak in trends and practices that are foreign to Zambians.

He was particularly concerned with trends such as gay rights adding that there was need to clear the air on the definition of minority and marginalized groups implied in Article 60 of the first draft constitution.

He said much as the church was grateful to the international community, it was also aware of well crafted plans by some donors who are pressuring for the inclusion of practices which foreign to Zambians.

Bishop Sakala said if there will be any submissions from the international community, such should be subjected to evaluation by citizens’ representatives

He also expressed concern that according to the church’s examination of the current international guidelines and road map, it was not possible for the country to have the constitution by the end of the year.

Bishop Sakala said a critical analysis of the composition of delegates to the districts, provincial and national sector conventions reveal that the political elite and civil servants will have an inbuilt majority, a situation he said will pose a danger of the constitution becoming a government product as their views will not represent any constituency.

He noted that the technical committee is meant to be independent and if they are perceived otherwise, it could raise public mistrust.

Bishop Sakala said the church planned to convene a consultative meeting with the chairman and some representatives of the technical committee as soon as possible to agree on how to address the raised imbalances.

(Source ZANIS)

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