CDD-Ghana and ACILA Call for the Safeguard of Zambia’s Democracy
The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) are concerned about the recent actions taken by the government of Zambia, including politically motivated prosecution of political opponents and a proclamation of a Declaration Relating to Threatened Emergency. These actions are a threat to democratic governance in Zambia and we are, therefore, calling on regional and international democratic governance promoters and actors to take a keen interest in the state of affairs in Zambia and take proactive steps to safeguard Zambia’s democracy.
1. We recall that on Wednesday, July 5, 2017, H.E. President Edgar Lungu invoked Article 31 of the Republican Constitution of Zambia proclaiming that a “situation exists which, if allowed to continue may lead to a public emergency.” He cited, among other things, the fire outbreak at the Lusaka City Market as justification for making the proclamation. The proclamation under Article 31, which will last for seven days unless Parliament extends it, gives the president power to direct the Zambian police to search citizens without a warrant and detain suspects longer than it is permitted by law.
2. We note that even though the President’s power to invoke Article 31 of the Zambian Constitution is not in doubt; however, the latest fire outbreak at the Lusaka City Market does not provide enough justification for the president to make a proclamation for a threatened state of emergency.
3. We observe that the proclamation of a threatened emergency on July 5, 2017, by President Lungu followed a pattern of harassment, intimidation, arrest, and politically motivated prosecution of his opponents, including Zambia’s opposition leader, Mr. Hakainde Hichilema. Mr. Hichilema was arrested on April 12 and charged with treason for allegedly failing to have his convoy pull off the road for President Lungu’s motorcade.
4. We also note with regret that 48 opposition MPs were suspended for 30 days for failing to be present in Parliament during a March 17 speech by President Lungu.
The proclamation of a Declaration Relating to Threatened Emergency will expire on Wednesday, July 12, 2017. Regrettably, President Lungu has stated an intention to seek approval from Parliament to declare a state of emergency. Majority of the members of Parliament are from the Patriotic Front, the same party as the president.
CDD-Ghana and ACILA are concerned that a declaration of a state of emergency will further aggravate the democratic governance deficits’ situation in Zambia. We appeal to the Zambian government to take a second look at this proclamation and reverse the declaration to enable Zambians enjoy their fundamental human rights.
We also call on the African Union and other state and non-state pro-democracy actors in Africa and the international community to take a keen interest in the unfortunate developments in Zambia and help protect the rights of opposition parties and their leaders as well as all Zambian citizens.
Finally, we call on the President of Ghana, H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who recently returned from a state visit to Zambia, to engage with the situation in Zambia and help take proactive steps to safeguard Zambia’s democracy.
Based in Accra, Ghana, CDD-Ghana and ACILA are non-partisan and non-profit, research, and advocacy organizations dedicated to promoting justice, human rights, and accountable governance in Africa.
Franklin Oduro Deputy Director/Head of Research and Programs CDD-Ghana
William Nyarko, Executive Director, Africa Center for International Law and Accountability
Date: Monday, July 10, 2017