Voice of America: State of emergency to deepen tension, scare investors

Zambia’s parliament has imposed a 90-day state of emergency, after the president last week declared the need for one. The situation is likely to deepen the political crisis in the country, and analysts say it also could scare away much needed investors to the copper-dependent, landlocked nation.

The president called for the state of emergency after a fire destroyed the capital’s main market earlier this month. He described the fire as an arson attack by “a few unpatriotic citizens” and said, in a speech to the nation, that this and other fires were “premeditated acts, which if left unchecked could have serious socio-economic consequences capable of drawing the country backwards.”

Parliament unanimously passed the measure Tuesday. No opposition lawmakers voted, as 48 of them were suspended last month for boycotting a speech by President Edgar Lungu. Their leader, Hakainde Hichilema, has been in jail since April, facing a treason charge. The few opposition who remained Tuesday boycotted the vote.

FILE - Hakainde Hichilema of the Zambia opposition United Party for National Development addresses an election rally in Lusaka, Zambia,Jan. 2015.

FILE – Hakainde Hichilema of the Zambia opposition United Party for National Development addresses an election rally in Lusaka, Zambia,Jan. 2015.


Falling copper prices and an energy crisis had already sent Zambia’s economic growth downward in 2015. That was well before the disputed 2016 poll that pitted Lungu against Hichilema and led to today’s bitter political landscape.

FILE - Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing July 6, 2017, at the Zambian State House in Lusaka.

FILE – Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing July 6, 2017, at the Zambian State House in Lusaka.

Martyn Davies, managing director of emerging markets and Africa at Deloitte, says local business owners expressed heightened concern to him during his recent visit to Zambia. He notes, though, that Zambia has never quite lived up to its promise.

“The country always had this perennial word which is used for many countries in the region, ‘potential,’” he told VOA from Johannesburg. “The potential doesn’t quite trickle down, didn’t quite result into real strong robust growth and real trickle down economics, i.e. creating a competitive private sector.

“And I think this is something which a small economy — a small, arguably vulnerable economy like Zambia, landlocked as it is, dependent on a single economy source — you have to be stable. You can’t have these sort of swings in policy and fiery political rhetoric. That just undermines the confidence of capital, both domestic and foreign, in your economy,” said Davies.

Analyst Nicole Beardsworth, of the Johannesburg-based Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, notes that parliament enacted Article 31 of the constitution, the milder “Declaration Relating to Threatened Emergency,” instead of Article 30, “Declaration of Public Emergency.” She says the effect is the same, however, and Lungu’s soft-pedaling of the situation could be making things worse.

“He’s trying to play a very dangerous game, which is he is imposing legislation that curbs, or has the potential to curb, the freedoms of Zambians,” she told VOA. “But he is trying to sell it as not being a state of emergency, and not legislation that will curb the freedom of Zambians. I don’t think that anyone really believes him in the statements that he made where he said Zambia is a democracy and people’s rights and freedoms will be respected. Because to be quite honest, his behavior over the last 18 months has proven that to not be the case.”

A spokesman for Zambia’s president told VOA last week that the emergency measure is not intended to curb liberties, but to keep Zambians safe.

Lungu now has three months to apply his new powers to solve the case of the fire that gutted the country’s busiest market and destroyed the livelihoods of some 1,900 traders. Officials have estimated it will take one year and cost $20 million to rebuild.


  • Nafilungula ifintu

  • We were told that someone had spoken to Trump and that he was coming to sort out the so called dictator. We have waited for too long. Now i hear its the MAimane guy and Juju coming. Ine nomba dizzy .ZWD plse any updates

  • comment-avatar
    Precious Mbuto 7 months

    No matter what you read about this all articles say the same – at the bottom of all the posturing by these so-called men is the bad way of our economy. Why can’t we focus on this peeps????? We need to make our leaders take care of the economy first then they go back to calling each other pig dogs and judases. Maybe I just a silly woman in the eyes of all the men out there but isn’t it the order from the good lord that women should love and feed there babies – how can I with no money?? Please, let us look and see how Gods country can look after ourselves. He gave us copper but we lose it!!!! Come on Lungu, look after the resources God gave us NOWWWWWW

  • Where law is stiffened, lawbreakers suffer more. The article is about lawbreakers hence the fear. This article again is in our Zambian constitution and not from Lungu,and is meant for law breakers only.

  • One thing am struggling with to understand is this: That for the police officers to be effective in their investigation article 31 must be revoked , ahhhh on this one, some of us thought police had powers even before.While we all support the notion of bringing every suspect to the judgement square by the police we believe that even without state of emergency police officers can still do their job effectively but bear with me for having difficulty in understanding it!

  • American voice let them worry about innocent kids they kill in the streets and parks with toy Guns

  • Usless Voice Of America.

  • It will be interesting to see how long a donor dependent nation keeps up appearances and rhetoric.

  • You are just dull watchdog. Quote the article which ecl invoked and prove that its the one which relates to state of emergence. Rabies in your lies. What are you going to say if the constitutional article which relates to a real state of emergency is invoked ? Won’t you say “he has now invoked death penalty without trail” ?

  • do not tell lies you have being saying this since 2015 things are now coming to help LUNGU electricity is now normal ,prices of m/meal are dropping to levels of 2014 and the exchange of the kwacha has been stead now touching k8.89 from around k14 even if you hate LUNGU he is trying to develop the country from time IMF told mmd government to sale all government run business no major Private companies or manufacturing companies were opened in Zambia which has led to very high in employment and it will take time to bring in factories to provide employment roads were impassable so what Pf is doing is the right path to our recovery

    • comment-avatar
      OneNation 7 months

      In addition, it is wrong to say the 2016 elections were disputed. When all independent observers, both local and international, called the elections free and fair, who should turn around and say they were disputed?

    • George N Mtonga have found one here, he knows why the Kwacha has “appreciated”

  • unanimous votes in parley

  • Can anyone who listened to this program accurately state what was said about our country. I missed the program hence no comment.

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  • Thanks ZWD, please keep it up, we appreciate

  • i listened to voa and nothing like what you have said.


    • if you think am dull then i can just imagine how you are. I am one person who only says the truth as i have no political inclinations. so spare the the insults.


  • Any sane Zambian should be worried about the current state of affairs.

  • If HH won the 2015 and 2016 elections based upon citizens voting for him may the Lord restore everything for him, fight all his battles and give him back the national leadership based on what is due to him. If ECL won the 2015 and 2016 elections based upon citizens voting for him may he repent before the Lord for all he has done to the nation and may he begin to work efficiently and effectively for the good of the nation. May the Lord reveal who won the 2015 and 2016 elections backed by credible results that everyone will be satisfied with, and the courts will settle fairly, honestly and justly.

    The purpose of an election is not to name the winner, it is to convince the losers that they lost. The winner rarely contests an election, the winner has little reason to investigate discrepancies. It is the looser that will always do this. Dan Wallach

  • 1.This message is directed to ECL. In the Bible there is a story of two women who were fighting for one baby, both claiming that it was theirs, and Solomon asked for the baby to be divided, the one who was not the real owner agreed but the real mother told King Solomon that the other woman could have the Child and King Solomon ended up giving her the baby because she couldn’t bear it to see the baby cut in half. Zambia is the baby and what we have seen since 2015 is your continuous ongoing battles with HH which have led to loss of lives, brutality by men in uniform, private media suppression,denial of freedom of assembly , injustice by those who are supposed to dispense justice etc. 2. For the sake of the baby Zambia can you put on thick skin when criticized, can you do away with cadres, can you allow the election petition to be heard, can you free HH for the sake of the baby Zambia, if you truly won the elections you will lose nothing by doing these things to preserve the baby Zambia. Take time to think about this you have a legacy to preserve, your family to ensure you live a good legacy, forget about the cadres and all who are advising you wrongly, they are just interested in money, positions. recognition and they will desert you once you are out of power because there is a season for everything under heaven, What do you want you and your family to be remembered for. Take time alone to ponder on the Zambian legacy and what type of good legacy free of branding by cadres that you want to leave for Zambia.

  • 1. Lord we give thanks and praise you in every situation, knowing that you are fixing situations hidden to us and schemes that we have no idea of , fighting battles that seem impossible in the natural, working in the background when things look hopeless.
    2.Our eyes are on you, we trust you to restore everything broken and in a mess in our nation for your Glory. We rejoice in you at all times, in every affliction that our nation is going through for we know that there is power in praise, walls crumble, mountains melt in your presence, stronghods are broken,captives are set free, chains are loosed, demons flee, situations bow down when we choose to magnify you above all.
    3.We rejoice in you during our weaknesses, when we are limited in our human ability you show yourself strong as we rejoice in you. We thank you that Zambia will be a beacon and model once again, and it will even be better. This too shall pass.

  • 1. If anything happens to HH and the UPND members in prison both the current leadership of this country and UPND leadership will be held accountable, why UPND leadership because they have approached this matter casually without implementing urgent peaceful strategies to secure HH’s and the other UPND members release within the first week, HH and the other UPND members who are in prison are not under an experiment to see what will happen next, they have not been charged properly, and postponing/adjouring court cases without a set target is not following the due course of law. 2. HH is a family and Business man, and has sacrificed for his party including the UPND members in prison, surely UPND leaders doesn’t this constantly bother you to come up with effective peaceful strategies to secure his and other UPND members release urgently. The prisons are also not like in developed countries where quality of life is guaranteed, there are hygiene issues, risks of diseases, overcrowding , and for political related oppression charges malpractice especially by brutal regimes if applicable, every day in prison increases risks, this applies to all prisoners in Zambia ,it is inhumane to keep people under such conditions especially in a Christian Nation. 3. Rational UPND youths need to come up with peaceful strategies and also engage competent well known top rated international human rights lawyers, rational Zambians would be willing to contribute to the legal fees, these cases have to come to an end urgently using peaceful methods.

  • This message is for all UPND members, if maybe you had exercised due diligence and protected all the votes using effective controls and measures in all wards and constituencies and ensured there was complete reformation in those who count votes, maybe Zambia would not have reached this point . 2 If maybe you had taken the election petition to some international court/organization maybe Zambia would not be where it is today. 3. If maybe you had sent a strong message peacefully immediately HH and all UPND members were taken to prison including using all the peaceful methods locally and internationally maybe Zambia would not be where it is today. There is still hope to use all peaceful methods although it will require more and extra peaceful strategies and work.

  • To activate the silent dogs to bark n how

  • Every Side, Main Pipo Are Spoken 2 What Is Going On In Our Nation-zambia. Katwishi Okotuleya, Copying Is Not Good It’s Bad Evin In Parment Mp Are Copying From Other Countries Are Doings When He/ She Dibeting In That House – Parliament. Try A nomal Dbet Not Bring Thing Which Happed In Other Nation Its Bad.

  • Watchdog is a major course of poor HH incarceration. Watchdog you’re evil see what your fake news as done to innocent UPND leaders and cadres giving them hope for nothing.uluseee.

    • chomba chomba chomba ,,,big idiot

    • to say the truth and nothing but the truth it is you who is evil coz you don’t want the truth to come out. it is only evil pipo like you who get endured by the trouth as your tongue knows no truth.

    • to say the truth and nothing but the truth it is you who is evil coz you don’t want the truth to come out. it is only evil pipo like you who get endured by the trouth as your tongue knows no truth.

    • your writing skills are extremely terrible,as old as you are,you’re failing to use the words “as and course” correctly.You’re worthy to be castrated as you are a rotten seed exhibiting dullness to it’s greatest height,bukopo too much.

    • useless creature!!

    • When watchdog replies to u I doubt if u will ever want to read about what they post , why not quit the page unlike provoking them when u don’t pay a cent to their existence, go watch ZNBC which u pay k3 per month.

    • Sum idiots y wonder y thy were born

    • Mr Mubita Likando Mundia , are you saying the way watchdog refers to ecl disrespectfully is health to you. Checks and balances on watchdog are disturbing you ? This is strange . Let them reply the worst way they can and we will happily handle them. Who told you watchdog are the worst at answering ? Mbuya iwe , to hell with your tu ma threats. Just come to namwala I give you mabishi instead of hopani you have always been eating.

    • Chomba, do you know how you can examin yourself to know if you are for Jesus or the devil? I will tell you

    • Ba ENOS naba CHOMBA… am sorry but you are dull… just post to testify how GOD helped you pass grade 7 if you did…..

  • dont read my comment idiot

  • Interesting

  • Whoever think Zambia is not conducive for his or her business the door is wide open mukwai ,they are free to go.

  • Let Americans worry about trump and not HH burning markets , HH knows where Lungu stays why can’t they talk the two them l bet they have each other’s Fone numbers,

  • you pipo who speak negativey about bas watchdog why cant you just unlinke the page. we need checks and balances and these guys are providing just that.

    • We Can,t Unlike The Page We Want To Know The Lies They Are Posting Ba Imbwa Aba.


  • ba watchdog why are u so worried with the declaration of SOE u know that very soon the law will visit you loleleni ba mbwa u will soon seize to Burk

    • yung or however u call yourself….how old are you? i guess you are not worried because you are too young to remeber what was happening back then. ask your father.!

    • How old are you? Subtract your number of years from those of watchdog then you will find that watchdog is far better than you

    • law to visit watchdog…. u r a fool.

    • U Dnt Understand De Meaning Of State Of Emergence! & U’re Stil Young 4 Sure U Hv 2 Consult 2 Elders 2 Understand De Meaning.

    • Yes , Watchdog will soon “seize” Burk Reynolds !

  • what really excites my pipo at watchdog?