The newly constituted Zambia Electoral Alliance (ZEA) has been urged to concentrate on dealing with the illegal application of the Public Order Act as it embarks on its mission to promote free and fair elections.
Opposition Alliance for Better Zambia president Fr. Frank Bwalya said his party welcomed the formation of ZEA and has since called on all well-meaning Zambians to embrace the initiative.
Fr. Bwalya said it had become clear that the 2016 general elections would be highly competitive and that the ruling Patriotic Front would do everything possible to stop being voted out of power after one term.
He accused the PF of manipulating the police so that it could deny the opposition democratic space to mobilise membership including enjoyment of constitutional rights such as freedom of assembly.
“We are convinced that PF will not allow a level playing field. They will become notorious in making the work of the opposition extremely difficult by violating relevant constitutional rights and freedom.
“Against this background, we urge the newly formed alliance by six civil society organisations to prioritize dealing with the illegal application of the Public Order Act (POA). The reality is that factors that make an election free and fair include elements outside the election period,” he said.
Fr. Bwalya noted that the illegal and discriminatory application of the Public Order Act to the advantage of ruling party would render the 2016 tripartite elections not free and unfair if allowed to continue. It is for this reason that we urge the alliance to urgently deal with this issue,” Fr Bwalya said.
Meanwhile the opposition party has condemned in strongest terms the beating and abduction of Zambian journalists suspected to be writing for the Zambian Watchdog.
Fr. Bwalya said the action of the assailants was a barbaric act of cowardice that should be condemned by all peace loving Zambians.
“Since members of PF and some government officials are on record threatening Zambian Watchdog reporters we challenge the PF government to come out clean on this criminal act. The government should do everything possible to bring to book the attackers and their sponsors immediately.
“Failure by the PF government to arrest the people behind this primitive conduct will make us conclude that the assailants were sponsored by the State,” he said.
He warned Zambians that what happened to the four journalists who were badly beaten and abducted could represent the consummation of a well coordinated State sponsored project to deal with dissenting voices and all those perceived to be enemies of the ruling party.
Fr. Bwalya said what was undoubted was that PF was becoming increasingly intolerant to dissenting views and would engage in all kinds of excesses to suppress anyone critical o fits failures.
He said the beating of journalists should not be taken lightly because in countries where people disappeared it started in the same manner scribes were being abducted in Zambia.