Continued harassment of opposition members by PF cadres worries HRC

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—The Human Rights Commission has expressed concern on the alleged continued harassment of opposition figures by suspected members of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) party.

Commission Spokesperson, Samuel Kasankha, noted that the current case is the manhandling and blocking of National Restoration Party (NAREP) president, Elias Chipimo Jr, from participating in a radio programme at Radio Mano in Kasama yesterday.

Mr Kasankha said the Commission has since strongly advised all Zambian citizens to adhere to the country’s collective decision in 1991 to revert to multiparty democracy as it comes with certain understandings and expectations.

He indicated in a statement made available to ZANIS in Lusaka today that among these expectations include the fact the anyone has the right as clearly provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia to form a political party or join one of his or her choice and should, thereafter, be free to participate in the governance of the country.

Mr Kasankha said others include the fundamental freedoms like the right to hold personal opinions and express them, the right to associate and the right to assemble peacefully must be fully respected as they form the basis upon which the success of multi- partism rotates.

He added that everyone is, therefore, free to provide checks and balances to government on issues of public interest including policy, legislation and others through issuance of public statements via mass and other media.

“High levels of tolerance of views and actions that we may not agree with and even those which we may consider inimical to our partisan political and other interests must, therefore, be exhibited by all, including those from the ruling party,’ he advised.

Mr Kasankha stated that any actions that are voluntarily embarked upon, which deliberately attempt to inhibit the enjoyment of the fundamental rights and freedoms are unconstitutional and should ordinarily attract sanctions upon the perpetrators.

“Nobody should get away with impunity for any such clear breaches of our constitution. The harassment of Mr Chipimo and others before him like Fr Frank Bwalya and Mr Bowman Lusambo are all illegal, undemocratic and undesirable,” he added.

He has since called upon all Zambians to desist from such actions because they only serve to work against the country’s multiparty and democratic standing.

Mr Kasankha added that such acts tend to create lawlessness, antagonism and have the full potential to cause escalation of violence in the event that the victims or their supporters choose to fight back.

He further called on political party leaders to not just sensitise their members on the folly and illegality of such actions but also to actively control, speak against and punish those that are found to be perpetrating the unconstitutional actions.

“Those mandated by the people of Zambia, through the Constitution, to provide security to all, like the Zambia Police, must be vigilant at all times and impartially deal with all illegality so as to forestall fear, despondency and anarchy in the country,” he noted.