YALI has however stated that the Common wealth must instead send a strong message to Zambian authorities that political intimidation, arbitrary arrests of members and leaders of the opposition and continued violation of human rights by state agencies will not go unchallenged by the international community.
YALI governance adviser Isaac Mwanza says The PF government is, no doubt, wanting on its record of human rights violations from the time it took over power in September 2011 and the Commonwealth must not give a blind ear and deaf eyes to these violations.
Mwanza tells QFM that in as much as YALI objects to sanctions for an ailing country like Zambia, it believes that political intimidation and abuse of human rights should equally not be tolerated.
He has since called on the government to open up the political space and the High Court to help by speeding up the determination of the constitutionality of the Public Order Act, a law he says is often abused by the Zambia Police to infringe on citizen’s political rights.
Mwanza notes that the suspension of the country from the Commonwealth would entail cutting down of technical assistance and development cooperation.
He says considering that the country currently receives close to 180 million pounds from DFID aimed at strengthening governance institutions, generating economic growth, improving sanitation and reducing the infection rate for HIV/AIDs, this much needed aid will be lost should Zambia be suspended from the Commonwealth and the impact will largely be felt by ordinary citizens instead of intended targets.
Mwanza says government should listen more to people with divergent views and not than just complain about the calls for suspension and sanctions but should take the first step in ensuring that human rights are protected.