In the 2016 General Elections, a special feature was added to the Votes. Zambians were asked to also vote Yes or No in a Referendum on the Bil of Rights
According to Article of the Constitution Amendment Bill 37 of 2016 proposed to Revise the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights includes the following rights, freedoms and liberties among others :
1. Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly and Petition
2. Right to Education
3. Right to Life
4. Protection from slavery, servitude and forced labour
5. Freedom of media.
6. Access to information.
7. General Political Rights.
These said articles in the Bill of Rights were in the said constitution amendment bill 37 of 2016 which was floated in the 2016 Elections.
However, the Referendum was rejected by the people. The then Ruling Party the Patriotic Front blamed the then Opposition party the United Party for National Development for the failure of the referendum.
The Bill was not enacted into law because the referendum had failed. Fast forward to the 2021 General Elections, upon winning the Presidential Elections, President Hakainde Hichilema promised that his government is going to guarantee the freedoms of the people that’s freedom of expression.
The President went further to re-emphasize that at the United Nations General Assembly that his government is committed to upholding and protecting Human Rights, the Rule of law and. Media Freedom.
With that said, is it time the government considered enacting the Bill of Rights into Law to formalize the government’s pledge and commitment to this cause. For example, as it stands, since the Bill of Rights is not fully enacted into law, Education in Zambia remains a privilege. Therefore, only those who have the means are capable of attaining the desired levels of Education.
With Zambia being a signatory to many International Conventions on Human Rights, it is only inevitable that Zambia fully settles the issue of the Bill of Rights
Is the government going to stick to the current scenario where the Bill of Rights is not yet law or will twist and call for a Referendum to enact the Bill into law.