YALI President Andrew Ntewewe says President Edgar Lungu has betrayed civil society organizations by declaring that holding a Referendum to pass the Bill of Rights is not a priority.

Speaking on Joy FM Radio’s The Platform Programme today Ntewewe asked President Lungu to reason on this matter.

“If the President wants to have peace in his governance, to concrete on developmental issues as he puts it he should put the debate around the Referendum to rest. He has five years for heaven’s sake, we are in 2017, 18, 19, 20 and 21, all he is supposed to do is to tell us on all these years where he prefers to hold the Referendum so that we also begin to plan and begin to educate citizens. We don’t want what happened in 2016 to happen again, so for him to tell us that we are not in a hurry, you are offside Mr President, can you get to reality and reason on this matter,” Ntewewe said.

“For you to wake up and say ‘no I’m not in hurry’, No! That’s a betrayal, it’s a betrayal for those of us who fought very hard that people should vote yes, it’s a betrayal for those of us who gave you a simple benefit of doubt that you meant well, it’s a betrayal to the citizens, the over 1.8 million citizens who went to cast a yes vote for the referendum, it’s a betrayal, it shocked us that the President can begin to say he’s not in a hurry.”

Ntewewe said forgetting about the Referendum would be denying Zambians their rights.

“We want to call on the President to rescind his reasoning that he will not be in a hurry to hold the Referendum; those were his words ‘I am not in a hurry to hold the Referendum because the Referendum is costly’. He should rethink that. Now to us that is paradoxical because the President was on the platform time and again beckoning Zambians to go and vote yes in [favour of] the Bill of Rights and he said that it was going to be important to ensure that development is done, four months down line he says, ‘I’m not in a hurry because it is too costly, I want to concentrate on developmental matters’, now Mr President, I thought the Bill of Rights is a developmental matter. The Bill of Rights is development itself, when you talk about the Bill of Rights you are talking about education for our people, you are talking about shelter, you are talking about employment, you are talking about health you are talking about our citizens living in human dignity, its development in itself no wonder you told people to say can you vote in the 2016 elections, vote yes,” Ntewewe said.

He accused President Lungu of using the Referendum as a political tool to usher him in to office in 2016.

“Now here is a problem moderator, if the President does not rescind his reasoning it means that for instance he was doing it because he wanted to take political capital and now that the election is over, he does not see any need for the Referendum,” said Ntewewe.