SACCORD on declining political rights

 Press statement on the state of civil liberties in Zambia

The Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (SACCORD) is gravely concerned with the quick speed at which the police are disregarding the rights of opposition politicians with impunity as though the country’s constitution has been suspended.

We are at pains to realize that the police in this era of multiparty democracy can begin acting as though this country had laws restricting citizens from joining legally registered political parties.

Over the last couple of months, we have noted with concern that the police have deliberately violated the rights of Zambians belonging to opposition political parties through the abuse of the Public Order Act (POA). The country is fully alive to the continued harassment of party members including leaders from the MMD and UPND. The recent arrests of MMD president Dr. Nevers Mumba together with four elected MPs  have brought sad memories of the brutal days of the UNIP rule. We further renew our calls to have the Public Order Act reviewed immediately so that we do not continue seeing its abuse by police authorities. in the meantime, we urge the police to administer the Ac t professionally and in line with Supreme Court interpretations of the Act such as the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia versus the Attorney General of 2003.

The rights that Zambians are enjoying today were the same ones that the founding fathers of this country wanted when they engaged in actions to remove the colonial government and it leaves us wondering why in 2012, Zambia should go back to the colonial times

We urge the government to help the police  do  the right things when it comes to our people enjoying fundamental rights and freedoms which our constitution guarantees. We further urge the police to be professional in the execution of their duties which is important in building public confidence in them as it contributes to upholding people’s fundamental freedoms.

As a country, we cannot afford to be perceived as a place where police and authorities disregard the rights of the people living in Zambia. . It is our hope that the PF government will work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the basic fundamental rights of the people of Zambia irrespective of political affiliations are promoted, protected and upheld. This appeal to the government is in line with the constitution of the land which all Zambians abide by.

Boniface Cheembe

Executive Director (Acting)

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