The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) strongly condemns the ongoing violations of the rights of citizens by Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo who has given himself a new job of chief enforcer of measures to address COVID 19.
Minister Lusambo’s beating of people is symptomatic of the absence of a human rights culture, bad governance and poor leadership in Zambia. Our human rights are a birth right and no one has the right to take them away from us even for our so called own good or benefit. Our human rights are God given and not bestowed on us by law or even by any political leader no matter how powerful. The law only recognizes rights but it does not confer rights. Therefore, what Minister Lusambo has been doing leading the police in beating up people in public places in order to safeguard our lives is not only a blatant violation of human rights but a ridiculous and dangerous contradiction. Human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent so you can not violate one right in the guise of protecting another right!
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been around since 10th December 1948 and we have a dangerously ignorant minister publicly declaring that he will beat human rights and its defenders using his own law 71 years later! Using one’s law is pure anarchy and delinquent behavior. President Lungu should be ashamed of his appointee Minister Lusambo. This man has a penchant for violence. He beat up Mr. Kambwili on the grounds of the law making house itself instead of debating Mr. Kambwili on the floor of the house as MPs are supposed to do. Now he is going around shamelessly violating article 15 of our Constitution which protects everyone from being subjected to torture, or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment. This right is in our Bill of Rights. It is not only justiciable but also non derogable therefore this right cannot be suspended even in a state of emergency or a war situation. Article 25 of our Constitution lists rights that can be derogated from and article 15 is not one of them! Lusambo’s beating of people is ‘inhuman’ and ‘degrading.’ It is corporal punishment and Judge Chulu in his High Court ruling in the John Banda v the People case of 1999 affirmed that corporal punishment, beating people is a violation of article 15 of our Constitution.
Once again by the action of his Minister Lusambo’s violation of human rights, President Lungu’s reputation and standing at national and international level is brought into disrepute like his pardon of General Kanene, a child sexual molester. Last year, 2019, in its Fourth Periodic Report on the Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to the UN Human Rights Committee, Zambia reported that the state has no laws that would give an opportunity for destruction of fundamental rights and freedoms recognised in the Covenant and while derogations are recognised by the Zambian Constitution under a state of emergency, such derogations do not affect the right to life, protection from slavery and forced labour, protection from inhuman treatment, contrary to what Minister Lusambo is doing. It would be interesting to note what the Committee’s response to the Minister’s shenanigans in relation to this part of the State party report would be. We ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in 1984.
President Lungu is also in violation of the Constitution by allowing Minister Lusambo to run wild violating our human rights. Article 91(2) gives the President the executive authority to exercise either directly or by public officers he appoints. He appointed Minister Lusambo so how Lusambo exercises his authority is a reflection of the President himself. In fact, Lusambo has stated that he reports to the President and not to anybody else. Further, under the same article paragraph 3 sub section (e) puts an obligation on the President to promote and protect the rights and freedoms of a person and to uphold the rule of law. So what is the President doing letting Lusambo run wild violating the Constitution on his behalf without consequences?
The claim that police are using minimum force does not hold any water. Minimum force is applied to persons resisting lawful arrest. The intention of Lusambo was not to lawfully arrest the revelers but to beat them from the public places. Were the people being beaten resisting arrest or being brow beaten out of public places like cattle? How is that the same as resisting arrest?
Minister Lusambo even had the audacity of going on television to defend his unlawful acts. What an embarrassment to the Presidency whether the President acknowledges or wants to be ‘absent’ about the issue as he does on most issues that really matter to us. We are not President Lungus’s subjects. We are citizens whose only mistake was to entrust him with power to facilitate a democratic environment for all of us where the rule of law is respected and our voices are heard. The person who saw value in appointing Minister Lusambo is the President therefore the value of Minister Lusambo as a Minister is in the eyes of President Lungu and perhaps the electorate of Kabushi not the rest of us. So please President Lungu relieve this man of the position of Minister, a position which his actions has denigrated it. If a die-hard brutish man like Mr. Lusambo can be a Minister what’s honourable about such positions? A short while ago he said things that displeased Zambians in the diaspora and they unleashed insults on him a situation reflecting to the appointing authority. Is Minister Lusambo President Lungu’s best choice for a ministerial position? If so, we Zambians should restructure President Lungu’s function.
CiSCA Vice Chairperson