The Bishop John Banda led Civil Society Constitution Agenda has raised wide ranging issues on the current political developments in the country placing top of the list the violence that occurred between UPND and PF cadres at the Leopards Hill … Continued
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The Bishop John Banda led Civil Society Constitution Agenda has raised wide ranging issues on the current political developments in the country placing top of the list the violence that occurred between UPND and PF cadres at the Leopards Hill Memorial Park.
In a statement, Bishop Mambo stated that recent arrest of UPND officials in Mongu pointed to deterioration of the rule of law.
BELOW IS THE FULL STATEMENT: CIVIL SOCIETY CONSTITUTION AGENDA PRESS STATEMENT
FOR IMMIDIATE RELEASE
LUSAKA, 26 JUNE 2017
The Civil Society Constitution Agenda (CiSCA) is appalled at the continued breach of the rule of law, the constitution and deliberate disrespect of the Bill of Rights by those wielding state power and their associates.
Over the past week since our media conference held on Friday, June 21, 2017, CiSCA has noticed the restriction of peopleâ€™s rights and freedoms to assemble, protest and demonstrate by the Zambia Police Service which is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia.
The rights and freedoms to assembly, associate and expression (peaceful demonstrations, protests) are guaranteed in our constitution under Article 20 and 21 and further, the police service is mandated by the constitution in Article 193(e) â€œto uphold the Bill of Rightsâ€. This continued denial of peopleâ€™s rights and freedoms to assembly and expression is a contravention of the international and regional human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and our very own African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to all of which Zambia is a State party.
Further, CiSCA has noted with concern governmentâ€™s reluctance to operationalise the provisions of Article 60 of the Constitution through an Act of Parliament to guide the operations, conduct and activities of political parties in Zambia including the provision on state funding to political parties with representation in parliament. It is our considered position that the PF government must facilitate the process of coming up with a political partiesâ€™ Code of Conduct as provided to be prescribed in Article 60(2) (g).
We are backed on this demand by President Edgar Lunguâ€™s words, at the assent to the amended Constitution ceremony on January 5, 2016, which gobbled K4m taxpayersâ€™ money, when he said, â€œThe impact of this constitution amendment bill is that it will enhance political stability which is prerequisite for attracting increased levels of investment and improving the business environment in general. Zambia will enhance her credential as a truly democratic state governed by the rule of law.â€
Has President Lungu lived true to the above statement a year and half after he issued it? Is there political stability now than at the time he assented to the Constitution? Do we have better democratic credentials now than ever before? And are we a true democratic state governed by the rule of law now than that time? As we have said before and we want to repeat, Zambia is now worse off and actually deteriorated to a dictatorship.
One and half years after the assent to the amended constitution, Zambia has witnessed a backslide in democracy, political stability and enjoyment of peopleâ€™s political, cultural and civil rights and freedoms. There is limitation to or no freedom of assembly, association, expression, no demonstration and protests allowed by the police, media freedoms are under threat, individual artists under siege, the church being threatened and political tension, bickering and crisis being the order of the day. This, President Lungu, must reflect seriously to find out why he has sailed the once peace and democratic country to the shores of democratic and human rights deterioration.
It is sad that under President Lunguâ€™s reign mourners in Zambia are hacked and made to flee from decently burying their dead by his cadres and yet he promised observance to the rule of law and a democratic state. It is very disturbing that the rule of law has been turned into the rule of powerful and thuggish men and women.
CiSCA therefore, condemns in the strongest term possible the unashamedly disregard of not only the Zambian Constitution values and principles but also our cultural values, custom, and tradition on the respect for the dead as exhibited by the PF cadres and sympathisers during the burial of the UPNDâ€™s Clance Zulu at Lusakaâ€™s Memorial Park Cemetery in Lusaka on Saturday, June 24, 2017.
Clearly, the dearthening silence or lukewarm statements coming from the President, his vice president, party secretary general and Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs signals volumes of how much they have appreciated this barbaric act and exhibits their agreement to this barbaric and unZambian act orchestrated by their cadres at the cemetery.
CiSCA challenges Patrotic Front Party Secretary General Davies Mwilato take responsibility for the action of their party cadres on Saturday, to roundly condemn this and to bring all the culprits involved to book. It is unacceptable that the PF and other institutions such as the Human Rights Commission can condemn both the perpetrators and victims.
This will only serve to further heighten the tension in the country as the victims feel belittled and unprotected. We equally challenge the Human Rights Commission and other well-meaning Zambians to be bold and courageous enough to call this for what it is â€“ state sponsored violence by the Patriotic Front government. How else can we label this when the perpetrators were using government vehicles?
Most astonishing is that despite President Lungu on March 17, 2017 addressing the nation on the need to adhere to national values, ethics and principles in the daily lives of citizens and the appointment of the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs to actualise these values as espoused in Article 8 of the Constitution, both himself and his minister of national guidance have remained visibly mute over the deteriorating national values and principles in the country.
Was the national address on these values and principles just a fulfilment of a constitutional fixture without conviction? Why has he remained mute when he passionately pledged to ensure these values and principles are respected?
To this end, CiSCA wishes to caution President Lungu and his government that the patience and resilience of most citizens save for those eating with him over these blatant breaches of the constitution, rule of law and disrespect of human rights are wearing extremely thin. We will be failing in our duty if we did not demand for the full implementation of the provisions of the amended constitution and demand for the respect of our human rights and the need to uphold the constitutionalism and the rule of law in Zambia.
John H Mambo
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source: Zambia Reports