HRC condemns harassment of Chipimo

The continued harassment of opposition party figures by suspected PF thugs is a source of great concern, says Human Rights Commission (HRC) spokesperson Samuel Kasankha.

Mr Kasankha said the reported manhandling and blocking of National Restoration Party (NAREP) President Elias Chipimo from participating in a radio program at Radio Mano in Kasama yesterday made sad reading.

He said that Zambia’s collective decision in 1991 to revert to multiparty democracy came with certain understanding and expectations which all Zambian should endeavor to adhere to.

Mr Kasankha said everyone had the right, as clearly provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, to form a political party or join one of their choice and should thereafter be allowed to freely participate in the governance of the country.

“Fundamental freedoms like the right to hold personal opinions and express them; the right to associate; and the right to assemble peacefully must be fully respected as they form the fulcrum upon which the success of this multipartism rotates,

“That everyone is therefore free to provide checks and balances to the government on issues of public interest including policy, legislation and others through issuance of public statements via mass and other media (e.g. radio, television, newspapers, social networks etc.,), participating in meetings, rallies and/or even peaceful demonstrations,” he stated.

Mr Kasankha called on all citizens including those in the ruling PF to exercise high levels of tolerance of views and actions that they might not agree with and even those which they might consider opposed to partisan political interests.

He stated that any actions that were voluntarily embarked upon  and which deliberately attempted to inhibit the enjoyment of these fundamental rights and freedoms were unconstitutional and should ordinarily attract sanctions on the perpetrators.

“Nobody should get away with it, Chipimo and others before him like the harassment of Fr Frank Bwalya and Mr Bowman Lusambo are all illegal, undemocratic and undesirable,” he said.

The Commission called on all Zambians to desist from such actions because they only served to negate Zambia’s multiparty and democratic standing.

Mr Kasankha said the perpetrators tend to create lawlessness, antagonism and had the full potential to cause the escalation of violence in the event that the victims or their supporters choose to fight back.

The Commission has since urged the leaderships of all political parties to not just sensitise their members on the madness and illegality of such actions but also to actively control, speak against and punish those that were found to be perpetrating these unconstitutional actions.

Mr Kasankha said that those mandated by the people of Zambia, through the Constitution, to provide security to all, like the Zambia Police, must be vigilant at all times and impartially deal with all illegality so as to forestall fear, despondency and anarchy in the country.