The following article was the lead story in the February 5 edition of The
Post newspaper. Publication of this article resulted in the banning of the
February 5 edition of The Post, and the charging of the paper's
Editor-in-Chief Fred M'membe, Managing Editor Bright Mwape and Special
Projects Editor Matsautso Phiri with contravention of the State Security
For those with direct Internet access, the full edition of the February 5
edition of The Post is available at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~declan/zambia/
(this edition of the paper had to be removed from The Post's own WWW site,
hosted in Zambia by Zamnet, because it was a banned publication "in any
Referendum set for March
By Staff Reporter
President Chiluba, his ministers and some ruling MMD officials are
secretly planning a referandum in March, this year to get the 'public'
to endorse the government white paper and usher in an MMD tailored
The President also intends to hold local government elections at the
same time, with little notice to the opposition.
In so doing, it is believed, the government hopes to "dribble past"
informed public opinion in civic organisations and the opposition
parties which have been advocating for a constituent assembly.
A secret programme leaked to The Post reveals that money for the
project, amounting to more than K150 million, will come from a fund
under the control of President Chiluba, from an undisclosed source.
And according to sources at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the secret
plan was to have been launched in the last week of January by legal
affairs minister Remmy Mushota who was expected to issue a press
statement on "submissions by non governmental organisations and
pressure groups" dismissing their views.
The programme, now two weeks behind schedule, includes expenditure of
K40 million on publication of constitutional campaign material, K6
million on advertisements on radio, television and newspapers, K90
million on tours to provinces by ministers and some selected civil
servants, and K15 million on a meeting in Siavonga to analyse evidence
received and report to cabinet.
After which there will be a "thirty days publication of the bill in the
Government Gazette", followed by a "referendum on part III in
conjunction with the local government elections" between the first and
the fourth week of March.
But ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) national secretary,
health minister Michael Sata, saw nothing strange in his party
consulting the people on its constitutional proposals.
"There is nothing wrong with consulting people. We have always been
doing that, so why should we not do so now?" Sata asked in an interview
And Zambia Democratic Congress president Dean Mung'omba yesterday
advised government not to shortcut the process because matters dealing
with the Constitution and elections were national issues.
"There are many players who include voters themselves. The processes
cannot be handled secretly. They must be discussed with other
stakeholders, including opposition parties," Mung'omba said in an
interview yesterday. "While government is entitled to call snap
elections, they are definitely not entitled to shortcut the processes."
Mung'omba, who described government insistence to adopt the
constitution through parliament said it was "as destructive as it is
"ZDC is ready to participate in any election and would not be taken by
surprise," Mung'omba said."We had sufficient information from
government itself about local government elections in March and
presidential and parliamentary elections in June-July. Either way we
And opposition United National Independence Party (UNIP) chairman
Malimba Masheke has deplored government secrecy in dealing with
"MMD cannot rule this country through secrecy. We are also
participants and we should be involved," Masheke said in an interview
yesterday, adding: "If they are going for a referandum we will meet
them but they must come out in the open. They should not try to take
people by surprise."
Masheke, who also criticised the MMD's choice of March for the
referandum and local government elections, said the money being used by
government to advance its view is public money.
"Why have elections in March when most parts of the country would be
impassible? It is because they want to be the only ones to reach these
areas by helicopters so they can rig the elections," Masheke charged,
adding that the K151 million government would spend on tours and
publicity materials "is public money and there is need for to be
Liberal Progressive Front secretary Rolf Shenton described government
action and its secret plans as strange and not to its advantage.
"I find it strange that they want to do this. It's surely to
government's advantage if we reach a consensus. But we will fight this
tooth and nail," Shenton said. "If government puts one side we must
use all means to put our side to the people."
But Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP) national secretary and
spokesperson Bishop John Mambo reminded government about what was
agreed at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in 1991.
"The give and take which was there in 1991 was expected to continue in
the Third Republic. We agreed at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and
God would be disappointed if we change," Mambo said. "You cannot
afford to be stubborn in an election year. You must listen to people,
they are the voters."
Mambo advised government to examine the many serious issues which need
to be addressed such as another extension of voter registration, the
need for President Chiluba to meet other parties, churches and civic
organisations, the establishment of an independent electoral commission
and to heed the call for a constituent assembly.
Asked about the planned referandum, Mambo, who said he was aware that
churches and NGO were being probed by government because of their
views, said there was need for people to know in detail about such a
"If they bring a referandum, we need to know about it. We need to know
what is being asked. There should be no dark corner arrangements for
anything," Mambo said.
Zambia Civic Association chairperson Lucy Sichone has described
government intentions as "strange" and "wasteful".
"If this is what they are doing it is strange. They seem to have lost
direction. How can they consult in secret and on their own position?"
asked Sichone in an interview yesterday. "What they should translate
and consult on is the Mwanakatwe report and the draft constitution."
And Sichone said whatever the government does they will be outdone.
"What question will they ask? Any way whatever they do we will be able
to muster enough no votes against them," Sichone said.
And revealing the details of the provincial tours the sources said an
amount of K10 million has been budgeted for each province and a
All provincial trips which are expected in the first and second week of
February have Edith Nawakwi assisted by permanent secretary at home
affairs K. Mwansa assigned to Northern Province while Samuel Miyanda
and Ernest Mwansa are expected to tour Luapula. Bennie Mwiinga goes to
North Western, Luminzu Shimaponda and Axon Sejani with legal affairs
director Valentine Kabonga to Southern and Sikota Wina and civil
servant Joshua Kanganja to Western Province.
Others who are similarly scheduled include Remmy Mushota for
Copperbelt, Paul Tembo with civil servant Mrs Johnston for Central
Province and Eric Silwamba with civil servant Eva Jhala for Lusaka
Province. All are to be assisted by provincial ministers and their
permanent secretaries and information officers.
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