UNITED States (US) ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz says his country will explore ways of supporting Zambia if Government decides to adopt the new constitution through a referendum.
In an interview recently, Mr Schultz dispelled assertions dispelled assertions that the US will not support the Zambian government in the event that it decides to adopt the new constitution through a referendum.
Mr Schultz said the US government has always been a committed partner to Zambia and that it would consider ways of providing support in the event that a referendum was called.
He noted that the law is complicated and should be followed in coming up with a people- driven constitution “Conducting a referendum is an expensive undertaking and Zambia is just coming out of an election and the country will go to the polls again next year,” Mr Schultz said
He said Government last year spent about US$82 million to conduct the presidential elections but observed that a referendum would require more funding because a census of population has to be conducted.
Mr Schultz also observed that the recent presidential election was marred with voter apathy and that a referendum requires a turnout of 50 percent of the people eligible to vote.
He said the US government is committed to supporting Zambia and will consider ways in which it can assist to hold a successful referendum.
Meanwhile, the US government has donated US$1 million towards the former Angolan refugee local integration programme.
The programme allows former Angolan refugees to remain in Zambia by joining on allocated farm plots.
Mr Schultz commended Government for its role in the former Angolan refugee local integration programme.
He said this is an indication of Government’s commitment in providing leadership on issues affecting refugees in southern Africa.
This is contained in a statement issued in Lusaka by American embassy public affairs officer Janet Deutsch.
“The United States government supports local integration as a durable solution that can bring infrastructure development to the surrounding communities and foster economic development among Zambian and former refugee populations,” Mr Schultz said.
The Local Integration program is a three-year initiative expected to run until 2016.