Zambia should be provisionally be suspended from the Commonwealth pending the appointment of an envoy to undertake an independent investigation of the alleged violation of civil rights and abuse of law enforcement agencies, Coalition for Defence and Democratic Rights (CDDR) has said.
The CDDR has also petitioned the Commonwealth to investigate the abuses of human rights by the Patriotic front and president Sata.
This was revealed during a press conference at Hyatt Regency in South Africa where it was officially announced that a dossier on the abuses has been submitted to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth.
Opposition political party leaders in the country have accused President Sata of inciting violence, abuse of law enforcement agencies as we circumventing the judicial process to persecute opponents.
Leaders from the opposition and civil society reaffirmed their commitment to multiparty democracy in the country and urged the Commonwealth to appoint an envoy to undertake an independent investigation.
The representatives were endorsing a petition filed originally with the Commonwealth on Jan. 25 2013, raising suspicions regarding the timing of the controversial letter from the Anti-Corruption Commission to former President Rupiah Banda, who was among the participants in the press conference.
The 39 page report, prepared on behalf of victims of human and civil rights abuses by the CDDR presented evidence showing “serious and persistent” violations of the principles of the Commonwealth’s Harare Declaration by the Patriotic Front government of President Michael Sata.
Speaking during the Press Conference, international Lawyer Robert Amsterdam said the report cites a lot of human rights violations such as the violations of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and attacks on civil society.
He said there was total disregard of the rule of law in Zambia adding that this was evidenced by the assault on the judicial system and urged the Commonwealth to act.
The CDDR counsel also said the deportation of leading businessmen and circumventing of judicial process by those close to the corridors of powers was very unfortunate.
“If there was no issue in Zambia we wouldn’t have been here to back the petition. More damage is being done to our country and we can’t just sit and watch. This is an early warning same road to what happened in Harare. We won’t allow Zambia to be turned into one party state.” He said.
And UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema said the PF government had not only attacked opposition political parties but the civil society as well.
“If you objectively look at the pattern of abuses committed by this government, it is not just against the opposition parties but civil societies and business competitors who have even suffered deportations” he said.
The opposition and the civil societies representatives have also agreed to explore legal coordination to ensure that the Zambian government’s attack on freedoms of expression and assembly were brought to the attention of the international community before further damage was caused.
The participants endorsing the petition in Johannesburg included MMD president Nevers Mumba, UPND’s Hakainde Hichilema, ZDDM’s Edwin Sakala and sakwiba Sikota of ULP.