Human Rights situation in Zambia
Monday, June 16, 2014
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is deeply concerned by the human rights situation in Zambia, YALI has noticed in the recent past the increased human rights violations especially by those who perceived not to be pro PF and most the citizen’s that suffered these violations are mainly members of the opposition and civil society.
On 31st May 2013 members of church and civil society where attacked at Matero BIGOCA church this because the perceived PF carders didn’t agree with the prayers that was being held on the removal of subsidies, recently opposition leaders from FDD, UPND, MMD and NAREP have either been harassed or blocked conducting their meetings especially when they are not being conducted in Lusaka. This is an assault on our democracy and a direct violation on our human rights and fundamental freedoms granted by our Republic Constitution which is the supreme law of the Zambia. One wonders why is it that when leaders from the ruling party are moving around Zambia there no restrictions made by the police and but if it the opposition there will so may restrictions and sometimes leaders of opposition parties are either arrested or taken in for questioning? What kind of law is this that is only applied one side? Are opposition leaders and members of CSOs not Zambians? Is it that people from the ruling party are more Zambians that the rest of the populous and have special rights that other Zambians don’t have? The Constitution of Zambia provides for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all Zambians and not only those from the ruling party.
Part Three of the Constitution of Zambia provides for Human rights and fundamental rights, Article 21(1) provides that“Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to any political party, trade union or other association for the protection of his interests.” While Article 22 (1) provides that, 1) Subject to the other provision of this Article and except in accordance with any other written law, no citizen shall be deprived of his freedom of movement, and for the purposes of this Article freedom of movement means –
(a) The right to move freely throughout Zambia: (b) the right to reside in any part of Zambia; and (c) the right to leave Zambia and to return to Zambia.
The harassment of radio stations and journalist deprives our citizen’s to have access to well researched and credible information. YALI has noticed the trend by our political leaders want to harass our journalists and media houses, this trend is most unfortunate it stifles innovation and investigative journalism in our country the continued threating of these media houses makes accountability and transparency unattainable. YALI has also noted with great sadness the continued harassment of citizens and political players who appear on certain radio stations, one of the opposition leaders had to use the roof to exist the radio station at Sun Radio station on the copperbelt, this because carders armed with all sorts of weapons were waiting for attack him. This most unfortunate this is the kind barbarisms that this country cannot accept and YALI condemns such acts in the strong terms possible.
One should understand that people have different backgrounds and ideologies and it is quite difficult for them to think in s similar manner. Studies have shown that even identical twins can never think the same, who are different political parties to think the same? They might think in similar way in same matters but not in all matters, this means that people are bound to disagree at one put but this it does not mean people should use pangas and other violent tools to solve their difference, dialogue is the best recipe to resolve matters, Zambians have never know this kind of behavior and it should not be tolerated by all well-meaning Zambians. Article 20 (1) of the Constitution of Zambia states that, “Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to impart and communicate ideas and information without interference, whether the communication be to the public generally or to any person or class of persons, and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”It is also important to highlight that Zambia’s global ratings on freedoms globally has dropped from partially free to not free.
In the same vein we don’t expect the thoughts of citizen’s to limited to certain ideologies and briefs if not then there is ground for them to be attacked, as YALI we feel that is wrong and people should be allowed to think differently. Article 19 (1) “Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, and for the purposes of this Article the said freedom includes freedom of thought and religion, freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.” YALI believes that our political leaders should listen more to their opponents especially when they disagree so that they learn where the disagreement is coming from and try to build dialogue and find a solution, learning to co-exist is very critical in a multi-party democracy like Zambia. Lastly YALI has been concerned about the violence in the country that is perpetuated by political carders, we believe that there is a bigger role that our young people can play in society other than of that of being used as violent carders, we believe that our young people should be integrated more in more progressive activities in their parties and violence should be condemned by all political parties top leadership and those who are involved should brought to book by both their part and law enforcement agencies. What are the spillover effects of this violence on the economy and country?
Uncertainty, due to the continued violence and lawlessness there is increased uncertainty by both local and international investors on putting their money in an economy that has elements of lawlessness their investments are treated for instance violence in the central business district.
Loss of life through death,
Increased crime as this carders with weapons may resort to use them for other violent crimes against citizens and may other effects.
To the Zambia Police Force, we call on the police to enhance there levels of professionalism in dealing citizens of this country regardless of their political affiliation, Dr. Martin King Luther once said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Our call is similar to that of Dr. Martin Luther, our call is that our police should cherry-pick how to apply the law. The law should applied to the latter regardless of who is involved and impartiality should be maintained as the police conduct their duties.
The police conduct basic training on various human rights that our citizens have and how they have go about them to avoid infringing on their rights, especially the application of the Public Order Act which has been abused in its application.
Political parties should redefine the role of the young people in their political parties and young people should take-up the mantle leadership in their parties and influence policies that will help solve our generational challenges and not being used as tools of violence.
Zambia has been a role model to most countries in Africa and the deteriorating democratic space has many effects on the countries credentials globally, it has also many effects domestically the collateral damage might be too much for PF government to handle, our call as YALI is that let the PF government uphold the rule of law and respect peoples human rights regardless of their color, political affiliation, tribe, etc. The PF being the party in power should spearhead nonviolence and dialogue. Zambia needs to take a leaf from countries that faced violence and anarchy and avoid this by all means possible.
Mundia Paul Hakoola
Executive Board Secretary
Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI)
+260955 999527/ 0979995247/ 0966995247